Baby Name Karen

The name Karen means “pure”. Karen is a Danish diminutive of Katherine, an English name derived from the Greek Aikaterine.

The name Karen is a girl’s name of Danish origin meaning “pure” and a Teutonic short form of Katherine, an English name derived from the Greek Aikaterine. In Denmark, it has been popular as a pet form of Kirsten since 1906.

I’m Karen – Karen is a Danish diminutive of Katherine. It is a name that means “pure”. I’m Karen – I’m a Danish girl’s name and my name means “pure.”

Karen is a baby girl name of Danish origin meaning “pure” and a popular baby girl name. The name Karen is a slightly different spelling of Karin (French, Swedish, German, Danish and Norwegian). Notable people:  Karen Horney,  American psychoanalyst who coined the term “feminine masochism; ”  Karen Finley,  American performance artist and playwright;  Karen Black,  Actress who starred in Five Easy Pieces; ” and “Carrie Fisher, actress who appeared in Star Wars.

Karen is the 5th most popular girl’s name in Denmark.

Pure, delicate and pretty. These are just a few of the many words that describe your little Karen. A name means everything to a child and the unique qualities of this name will surely give her a great start in life.

There are 1,107,736 people named Karen in the United States right now, and there are probably never going to be 1,107,737.

The reason: Karen has now joined that battery of names so closely identified with negative traits or reprehensible individuals that they’re taken off the table as baby names by well-meaning parents everywhere.

As far off the table as Adolf?

Unlike Adolf, the name Karen is not associated with a heinous person who masterminded the murder of 11 million people and started an international war.

Nor is Karen a pointed ethnic slur, the way many other names that have become epithets often are. Guido is a contemporary example, now a derogatory term meaning a macho, thuggish person of Italian descent, sparked by the movie Risky Business in 1983.GET THE BEST OF NEWSWEEK VIA EMAIL 

There were no babies named Guido (or Adolf) in the U.S. in 2018, the most recent year counted. But the year before innocuous Guido became tainted Guido, 17 baby boys were given the name, the same number as were named Susan (yes, really), Parnell and Dick.

Gender politics aside, the trouble with a boy named Sue, as Johnny Cash once famously sang about, is a lot more obvious than the problem with Parnell. But Parnell, along with its female form Petronilla, was basically the Karen of the 14th century, a once-popular name that came to mean a priest’s concubine or person of loose morals. The association may have faded, but the name never really recovered.

Dick is another issue. At the peak of its popularity in 1938, when it was given to nearly 1,000 baby boys, dick was already a slang term for penis. It wasn’t until the late 1960s, though, that Dick began taking on other negative meanings, as a noun, a verb and an adjective.

The upshot: zero baby boys named Dick today.

Karen Popularity

20 Names Similar to Karen

These 20 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like Karen.

Lists containing Karen

Famous People Named Karen

  • Karen Anne CarpenterAmerican singer
  • Karen Lynne ValentineAmerican actress
  • Karen Ruth BassU.S. Congresswoman from California
  • Karen WhiteAmerican novelist
  • Karen Blanche BlackAmerican actress
  • Karen Jane AllenAmerican actress
  • Karen Sheila GillanScottish actress
  • Karen Trust GrassleAmerican actress
  • Karen Mok (born Karen Joy Morris)Hong Kong actress
  • Karen Lucille “Lucy” HaleAmerican actress
  • Karen ElsonEnglish model and musician
  • Karen Ostage name of Karen Lee Orzolek, American lead singer of band Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Karen RussellAmerican novelist
  • Karen RobardsAmerican romance novelist
  • Karen RoseAmerican romance novelist
  • Karen TravissEnglish science fiction novelist
  • Karen YoungAmerican actress
  • Karen OlivoAmerican actress
  • Karen Patricia MoeAmerican Olympic swimmer
  • Karen McDougalAmerican model and actress
  • Karen TaylorEnglish comedienne
  • Karen HassanNorthern Irish actress
  • Karen Valencia Clark SheardAmerican gospel singer
  • Karen Alexandria KainCanadian ballerina
  • Karen LancaumeFrench adult actress
  • Karen LuJean NybergAmerican astronaut
  • Karen StrassmanAmerican voice actress
  • Karen Friedmanwife of American mobster Henry Hill; depicted in film “GoodFellas”
  • Karen Batten Pencewife of American politician Mike Pence
  • Karen MathesonScottish folk singer
  • Karen Louise BardsleyEnglish football player
  • Karen Julia CarneyEnglish football player
  • Karen Christenze von BlixenFinecke aka Isak Dinesen, Danish memoirist
  • Karen MuirSouth African swimmer
  • Karen KhachanovRussian tennis player
  • Karen MulderDutch Supermodel & Singer

Karen in Pop Culture

  • Karen Walkercharacter on TV’s “Will & Grace”
  • Karen Brockmancharacter on British TV series “Outnumbered”
  • Karen Smithcharacter in film “Mean Girls”
  • Karen Brewermain character in the “Baby,Sitters Little Sister” series
  • Karen Jacksoncharacter on TV’s “Shameless”
  • Karen Arnoldcharacter on TV’s “The Wonder Years”
  • Karen Crosscharacter in film “Silver City”
  • Karen DeSonnecharacter in “Generation Dead” by Daniel Waters
  • Karen Murphycharacter in movie “Abduction” played by Lily Collins
  • Karen Davischaracter in film “The Grudge”
  • Karen Vickcharacter on TV’s “Psych”
  • Karencharacter on TV’s “The Walking Dead”
  • Karen Peck and New Rivergospel choir band
  • Karen Cartwrightcharacter on TV’s “Smash”
  • Karen BeecherDuncan aka Bumblebee, character in DC Comics
  • Karen Filippellicharacter on TV’s “The Office”
  • Karen Roemother of Lucas and Lily Scott on TV’s “One Tree Hill”
  • Karen Pagecharacter in Marvel’s “Daredevil”
  • Karenlittle girl character in “Frosty the Snowman”
  • Rachel Karen Greencharacter on TV’s “Friends”
  • Karen von Rosewaldcharacter in the manga “Tokyo Ghoul:re”
  • Karen Rooneycharacter on TV’s “Liv and Maddie”
  • Karen “Kallen Stadtfeld” Kouzukicharacter in “Code Geass”
  • Karen McCormickKenny’s younger sister, character on “South Park”
  • Karen StarrDC Comics superhero, also called Kara Zor,L, alter ego of Power,Girl, the Earth,Two version of Kara Zor,El aka Supergirl
  • Karena character in the anime/mange Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
  • Karen Googlestiencharacter from the 2004 movie “White Chicks”
  • Karen “Voyd” from the 2018 Pixar sequel “Incredibles 2”
  • Karena background character in Cartoon Network’s “The Amazing World of Gumball”
  • “Karen” an internet term for a particularly self,entitled white woman
  • Karen Siscomain character played by Jennifer Lopez in the 1998 film “Out of Sight”

Fun Facts About The Name Karen

It became popular in the English-speaking world in the 1940s. The name Karen was one of the top 10 names for girls born in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, peaking as the third most popular girl’s name in 1965. Variants include Caren, Caryn, Karena, Karin, Karyn, and others.

Karen is a Danish diminutive of Katherine, an English name derived from the Greek Aikaterine. The etymology of Aikaterine is contested, but generally considered to have arisen from the Greek root katharos, meaning “pure.” Kaja is a related name, as it is another Danish variation of Katherine.

Karen, a sweet good-girl Danish import, was so popular during the baby boom (Karen was Number 3 in 1960) that it’s locked firmly into fashion limbo today. Recently, the name Karen has been turned into a meme, representing a hostile white woman—one who usually wants to speak with the manager.

Parents who want to honor a Karen or choose an updated version of the name might want to consider the Irish Kieran, the Cornish Kerensa or Kerenza, or variations from Karina to Kyra.

Some names outlast the taint of their derogatory associations. Few people remember, for instance, that there was ever anti-Irish prejudice in the U.S., much less that it was expressed by calling young Irish maids who immigrated to the U.S. “the Bridgets.” The term was so negative, shorthand for ignorant and stupid, that many actual Bridgets changed their name to avoid being stigmatized.

My grandmother was one of them. In 1911 she renamed herself Bertha, which then became infamous itself when the heavy artillery used by Germany in the first World War was nicknamed Big Bertha. And so then she changed her name again, this time to Beatrice.

Many Karens trying to make a name for themselves in this already-difficult world may have the same idea. The more than 2,000 Karens turning 21 this year may decide to morph into Karas or Kerrys or Olivias. And the nearly 500 parents who named their baby girls Karen in 2018 may be suffering the world’s biggest case of baby name regret.

But most Karens—the 32,000-plus who were given the name in the U.S. at its peak in 1965, for instance—may feel it’s too late to restyle themselves as Olivias. They may also fear they’ll be seen as Karens even if their name is Lisa or Donna or, okay, Pamela.

The problem with Karen as a name is rooted in its very ubiquity. The fact that none of the individuals who gave Karen her bad name were actually named Karen is the source of the name’s power as a pejorative. Karen symbolizes the kind of white privilege that’s been around so long and is so universal that it passes as ordinary and acceptable, like the name Karen itself.

But Karen has been fading from fashion as a name since it hit the height of its popularity 55 years ago, a year after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. And its current derogatory meaning stems, in part, from it being a relic of that bygone era. It’s a name that stands for an outdated brand of normalcy, behavior that was once as unremarkable as segregated schools or blackface comedy but that now is totally unacceptable.

So is Karen the name as unacceptable as the behavior it signifies?

The short answer is yes. Even before it became a synonym for racist shrew, Karen was heading straight downhill as a baby name. And it’s destined to fall much further much faster until, like Adolf, like Guido, like Genghis, there are no babies named Karen at all.

Still, you have to do something a lot worse than any Karen to be crossed off the master list of names forever. Lilith, Azrael and Cain—names associated with evil of literally Biblical proportions—are all coming back as stylish baby names. Figures of death and destruction—Kali, Electra, Osiris, Pandora, even Hades—are now fashionable names for innocent babies.

That’s proof that a millennium or two can wash away even the darkest name associations. As the British parents who recently won a legal battle to name their son Lucifer maintained, they saw it not as an alias of Satan but simply as a unique name with a pleasing sound.

Said little Lucifer’s dad, “We just thought it was a nice name.”

Pamela Redmond is the co-creator of Nameberry, the world’s largest baby name website, and the author of the novel Older, the sequel to TV’s Younger, due out in September.

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