Baby names come into and go out of style all the time. Some names lose popularity because they’re overdone or too old fashioned, while others decline because of negative connotations. Case in point: the plummeting popularity of the name Karen.
Huffington Post—citing Social Security Administration data—reports that in 2020, the name Karen fell a whopping 171 spots on the popularity list, from 660 to number 831. And if you think about it, it totally makes sense why.
As a quick refresher, a "Karen" is a stereotype of a middle-aged white woman who exploits her privilege and gets aggressive when things don’t go her way. She wants to speak to the manager. There are a few origins, but as Aja Romano for Vox explains, “[One] of the most prominent uses developed on Reddit, thanks to a redditor known for posting amusingly bitter invectives about his ex-wife—posts so amusing, they inspired a high school student to make an entire subreddit…” From there, “Karen” evolved into the white privilege meme that abounds today.
The name’s popularity had already been falling prior to 2020, but the pejorative use of the name to describe someone who exploits their privilege has likely caused it to tank even more swiftly. This past year, only 325 baby girls in the United States were named, down from 439 in 2019, Huffington Post notes, citing the SSA. For reference, the name reached its peak popularity in 1965, when almost 33,000 newborns were named Karen. (Those poor 1970s managers…)