Middle English Frankeleyn, attested as a surname from late 12c., from Anglo-French fraunclein "freeholder, land-owner of free but not noble birth," from Old French franc "free" (see frank (adj.)); probably with the Germanic suffix also found in chamberlain.

The Franklin stove (1787) so called because it was invented by U.S. scientist/politician Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). In early 19c., lightning rods often were called Franklins from his famous experiments with lightning in the 1750s.

updated on October 10, 2017

Definitions of Franklin from WordNet
franklin (n.)
a landowner (14th and 15th centuries) who was free but not of noble birth;
Franklin (n.)
United States historian noted for studies of Black American history (born in 1915);
Synonyms: John Hope Franklin
Franklin (n.)
printer whose success as an author led him to take up politics; he helped draw up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; he played a major role in the American Revolution and negotiated French support for the colonists; as a scientist he is remembered particularly for his research in electricity (1706-1790);
Synonyms: Benjamin Franklin
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.