CHICAGO (CBS) — The name Karen has turned into a slang word describing women who lash out for no good reason, asking to talk to managers or even calling police.
The behavior that begets the nickname is unacceptable, but what if your name really is Karen?
Some real Karens tell CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas it’s a trend that they hope dies out soon.
Her name is Lisa Alexander, but people online dubbed her Karen after she called the cops on a Filipino man for painting Black Lives Matter on his own property.
Then there’s Amy Cooper, dubbed Central Park Karen after infamously calling the police on a black birdwatcher who asked her to leash her dog.
“There are words for that, and it’s not Karen,” said Karen Burris.
Burris agreed people who act like that should be called out, but they shouldn’t be called Karens.
“Call them privileged. Call them racist. Karen is a proper name. Everybody’s name is a proper name. Use the nouns or verbs or adjectives to describe bad behavior,” she said.
Burris is part of a Facebook group called Karens United. It’s full of hundreds of people who share two things in common; a first name and a disdain for the way it’s being used.
Dictionary.com describes Karen as a “pejorative 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.”
Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted “Hey Karen, watch your mouth” after the White House press secretary called her “the derelict mayor of Chicago.”
“I commented on the mayor’s tweet, and I said, ‘I love you, I love what you’re doing for the city. But choose different words,’” Burris said.
Jennifer Moss, founder of babynames.com, said “the name Karen is definitely dropping out of style.”
Moss said Karen was already becoming less popular in the past decade, but in the past couple years its popularity dropped significantly.
“We found on babynames.com, zero users have added the name Karen to their favorite name lists in the past 12 months,” she said.
Is that surprising to have a zero? It would seem at least one person would put it in there.
“Absolutely,” Moss said. “We have millions of visitors every month, so we’re talking about millions of people who are just avoiding the name altogether.”
So will Karen ever make a comeback?
Burris says she hopes so, but Moss said, at this point, it’s unlikely.