1. says

    I’ve never been a fan of the name Karen. I’ve known Karens whom I consider good people, but the name itself? Not lyrical, not meaningful, not special, not rare. It’s like naming your child “John”. I mean, you could, it’s no bad or evil thing to do, but why? What’s the particular value that makes you think that this name is better than any other name you could possible give that child?

    I don’t see it. So in that sense, I don’t think it would be a loss.

    Now if good people get harassed b/c they’re named Karen, that’s bad. And if people are avoiding giving children the name Karen when they really do think it’s the best name in the whole world just because they’re afraid their child will be harassed, that’s bad.

    But honestly, I just don’t see the name as so great that it would ever come down to that. Put me down as someone confused about what would make the name Karen great.

  2. John Morales says

    PS fractally meretricious: “Now if good people get harassed b/c they’re named Karen, that’s bad.”

    (Non-good people being “harassed b/c they’re named Karen”, however…)

    As for the titular “joke”, it’s a misnomer much as is ‘fly spray” — i.e. are they cards to be given to “karens”, or cards “karens” would give?

    (I mean, ‘hair spray’ isn’t supposed to depilate, is it?)

  3. Silentbob says

    @1 Crip Dyke

    What’s the particular value that makes you think that this name is better than any other name you could possible give that child?

    It’s often tradition though, no? I’m named after a 14th century king of Scotland. That’s probably an extreme example, but I think it’s common, perhaps more so in the past, to name a child after someone else, often a relative.

    When I look up Karen specifically,…

    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.

    Yikes. I do feel sorry for perfectly nice people who happen to be called Karen.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Attitudes to names are very sensitive to region, period, culture, etc. Three acclaimed members of the 1966 World Cup winning England team were Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Nobby (Norbert) Stiles.

    In England, the name Nimrod was rarely used as a given name, but it was associated with martial prowess and heroism. And stirring music. Imagine my surprise when I came to Canada and heard it used as an insult. This in a country where names like Chip were considered OK?

    My favourite woman’s name is Jennifer. Does anyone think that sounds silly? And I think Karen is a lovely name.

  5. drken says

    Social Security keeps tabs on how popular names are by year, based on applications for social security cards and publishes them here: According to them, Karen has been decreasing in popularity since 2009. Not that surprising, really. Of course, chances are that by the time the kid goes to school insulting people by calling them Karens will have fallen out of favor, but I guess you really don’t want to take chances with that sort of thing. Mano isn’t even on the list (sorry).

    @Rob #8
    Nimrod fell out of favor in the 1950s when Bugs Bunny sarcastically called Elmer Fudd a “Nimrod” in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Unfortunately for that name, nobody in the US knew who Nimrod was, so they assumed it was an insult and the rest is history.

  6. brucegee1962 says

    I know plenty of decent Karens — I too lament the sullying of a once-fine name.

    As for Nimrod, I can’t see the name without thinking of what Neil Gaiman did with it. In the Bible, Nimrod was described as a mighty hunter; nowadays we think of it as a dweeb (as drken says, probably because of Bugs Bunny). So Gaiman combined the two images into a dweeby serial killer.

  7. anat says

    Nimrod in Hebrew means ‘we shall rebel’. As a result it is a name favored by secular parents while making rabbis get the vapors. My handle has a similar effect but to a lesser degree, as it was the name of a Canaanite war goddess.

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