‘Bye, Karen’: Popularity of naming babies ‘Karen’ plummets in 2020 after moniker becomes a meme


(NewsNation Now) — Where have all the Karens gone? The popularity of naming newborn girls “Karen” plummeted in the U.S. in 2020, as the name also became shorthand for bad behavior and public freak-outs during the pandemic.

A ranking of the popularity of baby names by gender found “Karen” dropped from 660th place in 2019 to 831st in 2020, according to the Social Security Administration.

The overall number of new babies named Karen dropped from 439 in 2019 to 325 in 2020, a decline of nearly 26%.

All this as the name “Karen” became part of a meme portraying an irritating, entitled woman (often white), as well as a label for women seen as the instigator in high-profile incidents. This included a woman who was widely condemned after a videotaped dispute with a Black birdwatcher in Central Park.

“I have a friend name Karen and she’s like, I hate my name, I don’t know what to do, I can’t believe this – she’s completely freaking out over it,” comedian Judy Gold said.

The name reached its relative peak in 1965, when there were nearly 33,000 newborns named Karen, amounting to about 1.8% of the total.

Comedian Ben Gleib says the largest cadre of Karens is now reaching the perfect age to live up to the “Karen” meme.

“We know that they are at the perfect, ‘complaining to the manager golden age,’ and society is in trouble,” Gleib joked.

After initially emerging in the 1930s, Karen peaked as the 4th most popular name in the 1960s and has declined ever since. From 2010 to 2020, the number of new Karens dropped by 75%.

Some female names saw an even bigger decline from 2019 to 2020, including Annabella (655 to 852) and Maleah (687 to 869).

Overall, Karen still ranks as the 10th most popular name for girls over the past 100 years.

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