You may be hearing "Karen" thrown around a lot lately, but it's becoming less common as an actual name. Fewer newborn babies were named Karen in the US in 2020 than in any year since 1932, the Huffington Post reports based on Social Security Administration data. Karen, the third most popular name for girls in 1965, was in the top 150 female names as of 2003. It has slowly fallen in popularity since then, ranking in the 500s in 2015-17. It ranked 637 and 660 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But in 2020, it fell dramatically to No. 831, with only 325 baby girls named Karen, compared to nearly 33,000 in 1965, per HuffPost. The outlet notes Katrina and Isis also fell in popularity, dropping out of the top 1,000 names, following the 2005 hurricane and rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist group offshoot of al-Qaeda.
Karen has become a slang term for "an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people's behaviors," according to Dictionary.com. Per the BBC, Karen refers to "the kind of person who demands to 'speak to the manager' in order to belittle service industry workers, is anti-vaccination, and carries out racist micro-aggressions, such as asking to touch black people's hair." There's no clear evidence that this usage influenced new parents. But the Seattle Times wonders "how could it not, with connotations like the 'Central Park Karen' who falsely called police to say a Black bird-watcher who had asked her to comply with the rules ... had actually threatened to harm her? Or the so-called SoHo Karen, who wrongfully accused a Black boy of stealing her cellphone?" (See the most popular baby names for 2020.)