How the name “Karen” became an insult — and a meme

This article at Vox examines the use of names like “Karen” to identify a class of people in American society. Increasingly, “Karen” in particular has emerged as the frontrunner for the average “basic white person name” — a pejorative catchall label for a wide range of behaviors thought to have connections to white privilege.

Former ANS President Dr. Iman Nick, as well as long-time member and Name of the Year Coordinator Cleve Evans, are quoted in this article, providing a scholarly and historical view of this phenomenon. Here’s a sample:

This trend might have also gotten a boost from social media, according to Dr. I.M. Nick,a nomenclature scholar and former president of the American Name Society. “The general tendency which social media users have been shown to manifest is a high frequency of shortenings and abbreviations,” she said in an email, though she hesitated to speculate on how this tendency might apply to specific names.

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