In the United States, there are about 4 million babies born per year. Over time, baby name trends have changed, but some of the most popular baby names over the last 100 years include classic names like Mary, James, Michael, and even Karen. But the future of the name Karen may be in serious jeopardy.
Why Is The Name “Karen” Becoming Less Popular?
The decline of the name “Karen” started during COVID. As a frustrated American public battled pandemic lockdown fatigue and polarizing social issues, entitled members of the public began to act out in public. Videos of these incidents started getting uploaded online and a common trend began to emerge: The entitled middle-aged white woman. The Internet gave “her” the nickname “Karen”.
The First Karen Viral Videos
One of the first Karen videos to go viral was of a woman named Amy Cooper. After a birdwatcher politely asked Cooper to leash her dog, as required for all dogs in New York’s Central Park Bramble area, Cooper became irate. In a video of the incident, Cooper threatens to falsely tell Police that there’s an “African-American man threatening her life”.
After the video of her encounter was uploaded to Twitter (sorry, not calling it X), the video immediately went viral. At the time, Cooper hadn’t been identified yet. So the Internet nicknamed her the ‘Central Park Karen’. Within hours, the incident made national headlines and permanently cemented the term “Karen” in our collective minds.
Immediately following the Central Park Karen incident in May 2020, others began sharing their “Karen videos”. Each video is more embarrassing and cringeworthy than the other. There was a “Parking Lot Karen“, who leaned against a car to block a parking spot. A woman dubbed “Coughing Karen” who purposely coughed on customers at a bagel shop after being asked to comply with the COVID mask mandate. And “Chalk Karen” who called the Police on a black man for writing Black Lives Matter in chalk… on his own property.
In just a few weeks, Karen as a name was ruined. Karen has become a negative stereotype describing entitled, mostly white, middle-aged women acting irresponsibly, wanting to speak to the “manager”, and/or displaying racist behavior.
By the fall of 2020, the Karen Meme was so infamous that Halloween Karen costumes became one of the most trendy costumes of the season.
The Decline Of The Name Karen (2012-2022)
The name Karen was very popular in the US in the 1950s and 1960s, peaking as the third most popular name for girls born in 1965. Over time, it gradually declined in popularity.
However, after the emergence of the Karen Meme in 2020, the name suffered a significant wave of unpopularity among new parents. As Karen Memes spread across the Internet, the decline of the Karen name accelerated. By 2021, -32% less parents choose to name their new daughters Karen than the year before.
|Rank: All Baby Names
|# Of Babies Named Karen Per Year
|Rank Percent Change (YOY)
Where Did The Term Karen Originate?
What’s the origin of the Karen meme? It is widely believed that the Karen label originated from a Dane Cook comedy special in 2005. In his routine, Cook said, “Every group has a Karen, and she is always a bag of d**che. And when she’s not around, you just look at each other and say, ‘God, Karen, she’s such a d*****bag!'”
Why Is The Name Karen Becoming Less Popular?
There are a number of reasons for the decline of the name “Karen.”
The negative stereotype of Karen in the media and online:
The obvious reason is the negativity that has become associated with the Karen name. The popularity of memes and social media posts has reinforced the negative stereotype of Karen.
In addition to describing entitled racist outbursts, the name “Karen” is often used as a pejorative term to refer to women who are being demanding, difficult to please, and complain about trivial things. The negative association with the name Karen has caused many parents to choose different names for their daughters.
How the changing demographics of the United States are affecting name popularity:
Another reason for the decline is the changing demographics of the United States. The population of the US is becoming more diverse, and parents are increasingly choosing names that reflect their cultural heritage. As a result, names like Isabella, Ezra, Sophia, and Mia are becoming more popular than traditional names like Karen.
Is There A Future For The Name “Karen”?
The decline of the name “Karen” is a reminder that the meaning of names can change over time. What was once a popular name can become associated with a negative stereotype, and eventually fall out of favor.
It is difficult to say what the future holds for the name “Karen.” It is possible that the negative stereotype associated with the name will fade over time, and the name will regain some of its popularity.
However, it is also possible that the name will continue to decline and eventually become a relic of the past. For example, consider the name Adolf. How many people named Adolf have you met before? After the defeat of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany during World War II, the name mostly disappeared.
Karen has become one of the most unpopular baby girl names in modern history. Only time will tell what the future holds for the name “Karen.” However, one thing is for sure, the name has certainly had a tumultuous few years.
Do you feel bad for women with the name Karen? Do you know a Karen who always wants to speak to the manager? Do you think the name Karen is ruined? Please let us know in the comments.
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