Baby names don’t tend to move too dramatically on the popularity list from one year to the next, but there are notable exceptions. Katrina and Isis, for example, fell off the Top 1,000 ranking after negative news coverage around those names (the hurricane for the former and the terrorist group for the latter).
The latest data from the Social Security Administration in the US highlights another special case: Karen.
In 2020, Karen fell 171 spots on the popularity list to No. 831 (down from No. 660 in 2019). That decline makes Karen the name with the 14th-biggest decrease on the girls list in 2020 and marks its lowest ranking on the annual SSA list since the year 1927.
Last year, only 325 baby girls were named Karen, compared to 439 in 2019. When the name was at its peak as the third most popular name for girls in 1965, there were nearly 33,000 newborn Karens.
We can’t definitively say that the pejorative “Karen” meme is to blame for the name’s decline in popularity. After all, it’s been steadily dropping down the rankings since its ’60s apex with bigger dips in the 21st century.
Still, it seems more than likely that Karen’s recent association with white women who throw fits and demand to speak to store managers (as well as with white privilege and white supremacy generally) played a role in this accelerating decline.
At this rate, we imagine it will completely fall off the Top 1,000 list for 2021, but we’ll have to wait until the SSA releases the data next year.