The legend of the ford of the Franks

About 146 CE a Frankish king established a fort where the river was shallow enough to be crossed on foot. The name is derived from Franconofurd, the tribe of the Franks and Furt (cf. English ‘ford’)

Frankonovurd (in Old High German) or Vadum Francorum (in Latin) were the first names mentioned in written records from 794, when Charlemagne presided over an imperial assembly and church synod. Transformed to Frankenfort during the Middle Ages and then to Franckfort and Franckfurth in the modern era. By the 19th century, the name Frankfurt had been established as the official spelling.

The suffix ‘am Main’ has been used regularly since the 14th century. In English, the city’s full name of Frankfurt am Main means ‘Frankfurt on the Main’ (pronounced like English ‘mine’ or German mein). Frankfurt is located on an ancient ford (German: Furt) on the Main River. As a part of early Franconia, the inhabitants were the early Franks, thus the city’s name reveals its legacy as “the ford of the Franks on the Main”.

Among English speakers, the city is commonly known simply as Frankfurt, but Germans occasionally call it by its full name to distinguish it from the other (significantly smaller) German city of Frankfurt an der Oder