Nobody Wants to Name Their Baby “Karen” Anymore

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a contributing writer at Okayplayer where he…
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The name Karen fell to its lowest ranking since 1927 by the end of 2020.

Over the last few years, the name Karen has become a meme, describing a stereotypically entitled white woman. In July 2020, “Central Park Karen” Amy Cooper faced misdemeanor false reporting charges after an altercation in which she called the police on writer and bird-watcher Christian Cooper. According to Huffington Post, the name fell 171 spots from 660 to 831 on the Social Security Administration’s name popularity list for babies born in 2020.

The decline marks the 14th-largest drop on the girls list in 2020, and the name’s lowest ranking since 1927. In 2019, 439 baby girls were named Karen. The number dropped to 325 in 2020. Huffpost reporter Caroline Bologna notes that the name has steadily declined in popularity since the 1960s, with significant declines in the 21st century.

Previously, names like Katrina and Isis have suffered sharp declines in popularity, due to natural disasters or otherwise obvious negative news coverage. The two names dropped from the top 1,000. Earlier examples of such events include Adolf (for obvious reasons).

Between 1991 and 1996, the name Ellen dropped 26 spots on the list. After Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997, the name dropped from number 245 to 346. In the years after the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted in 1998, the name Monica dropped from number 79 on the list to 105th, then to 151st the next year with just 2,133 babies named Monica. As recently as 2016, the name ranked at number 589.

Notable increases from the SSA’s popularity list for 2020 include Kobe and Jakobe–the latter increasing from number 1382 in 2019 to 544 in 2020. The former, a more exact tribute to Los Angeles Laker great Kobe Bryant–jumped from number 556 in 2019 to number 239. Current Los Angeles Laker great LeBron James may have influenced the charts as well. James’ daughter Zhuri’s recent YouTube channel launch helped her name jump from 1389th on the list in 2019 to 991st.

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