Baby Names: Jack vs. Frank


In naming our first child, my wife and I were very careful to choose a name that fit several important criteria: a) it has to be familiar, yet not overused or trendy; b)  there can only be one obvious way to spell it; c) there can only be one obvious way to say it; d) it has to be a “classic” American name; e) it has to be a strong name, f) it has to sound good with my last name(“Alex Shell” couldn’t work because it sounds like “Alec Shell”- same thing with “Max”). So Jack was the most obvious choice.  But as we have daydreamed about what to name another boy if we were to have one, we’ve had trouble finding another boy name that would fit our criteria.

All I could come up with is Frank.  But here’s the problem with Frank.  It’s not a cool name these days.  You can’t name your baby Frank.  Despite all the cool, classic, all-American Frank’s in our nation’s history, Frank isn’t a cool name for a baby in the 2010’s.  Even Frank Sinatra’s legacy of coolness can’t change that.

So why has Jack remained cool but Frank has not?  I’ve only got ridiculous theories.  But here they are:


1. Frank is another word for “hot dog”.  Jack is not.

2. Not a lot of cool young names start with “fr”.  Like Fred, for example.  But a lot of cool young names do start with “j”.  Like Josh, Jerome, and Jake.

3. Frank is pretty similar to the f-word.  So is Chuck.

4. Frank sounds rhymes with both “stank” and “rank”, which indicate bad odor.

5. It’s not easy to think of a recent, young Frank who is cool.  The closest I can come up with is the Jewish Frank from the Ali Fedotowsky season of The Bachelorette.  But by referencing that TV show, it obviously is an indication of “not cool”.  (So what does that say about me for admitting I watch the show?…)

6. It’s easy to think of cool Jack’s- like Jack Donaghy (30 Rock), Jack Tripper (Three’s Company), and if this were 2003, Jack Black.

7. I can’t think of any negative associations with Jack, where I obviously easily was able to with Frank.

8.  As you continue eating leftover Halloween candy, keep this in mind: Jack O’ lanterns are cooler than Frankenstein.

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7 thoughts on “Baby Names: Jack vs. Frank

  1. Jack is an awesome name. It makes me think of Jack Nicholson (whose always cool) and Jack Dawson from Titanic which may not be so cool to some people but Leonardo will always have a place in my heart. Unfortunately, “Leonardo” is not a good choice name.
    Also, my mom is a nanny to a kid named Jack and we bought him a shirt with Jack, the skeleton from A Nightmare Before Christmas that says “Jack” all over it and he’s now considered the coolest 1st grader at school. Not even kidding.

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    • Thanks, yeah I think of Jack Nicholson also. And by the way, thanks for consistently reading. Some people appear out of nowhere, starting reading my stuff, then disappear as quickly as they came. But not you 🙂

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  2. I can think of two bad associations with Jack. “You don’t know jack” as in “jacksh**” and also the phrase associated with wanking. “Frank” lost it’s cache because there is a Frank in every movie and it is always a minor character. If you want to go with a fun old name that is not used anymore and sounds good with Shell, how about “Scott?”
    “Great Scott!!”
    And of course if you’re really into the ending with K thing, there is always “Mark.”

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    • Man, I missed a lot of associations there! I guess it’s yet another reason why Jack is a cooler baby name than Frank. Because Jack can get away with it 🙂

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  3. I just remembered, I think if a last name is only one syllable, the best choice for a first name is a two syllable name. It’s more lyrical that way: Austin Shell, Henrik Shell, Aaron Shell, Michael Shell. Mike Shell even sounds good and has that K thing. Okay, I need to stop now. Now I’m going to bed and I’m going to lie there going over names, I just know it.

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  4. I have two sons named Joe and frank and my third will be named jack. Everyone has told me how much they love franks name and compared to all the trendy names out there I’ve been told his classic name is refreshing in a sea of aydans, conners, jaydens, and the like. Sometimes “cool” names are more subtle than you think.

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