Of Germanic origin. The name referred originally to a member of the tribe of the Franks, who are said to have got the name from a characteristic type of spear that they used. When the Franks migrated into Gaul in the 4th century, the country received its modern name of France (Late Latin Francia) and the tribal term Frank came to mean ‘Frenchman’. The name is now also used as a short form of Francis or Franklin.
Italian (mainly Liguria and Lombardy): from mala ‘bad’ + èrba ‘grass’, ‘weed’, applied in a transferred sense as a nickname for a wicked or dangerous person, or in some cases possibly a habitational name from any of various places so named; it is not clear whether the place name is a descriptive name or derives from the nickname.