The Meaning of Karen: What It Is and How To Use It

What is a Karen, and how did this seemingly common name become a meme? Keep reading to learn about the meaning of Karen.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

The term Karen is taking over the internet. It’s all over social media, and it seems like every day, there is another video of a person being called a Karen. What exactly is a Karen, and how is this common name used pejoratively? 

Keep reading to learn about the hidden meaning behind the word Karen. 

What Does the Word Karen Mean?

According to Dictionary, the word Karen is a slang term that refers to a middle-aged white woman acting entitled, obnoxious, and often racist. A Karen uses their white privilege to get what they want. This term has become an internet meme and has grown in popularity over recent years on social media, particularly on Black Twitter. 

You might see a Karen being racist, refusing to wear a face mask, participating in class prejudice and entitlement, calling the police when unnecessary, and more. Karens are stereotyped as having what is known as a “may I speak to the manager haircut,” popularized by Kate Gosselin. The male equivalent of a Karen is called a Chad.

While it may seem like the term Karen is just a funny joke, this type of behavior can have serious consequences on the recipients of a Karen’s actions. For example, Central Park Karen Amy Cooper called the police on an African-American man who asked her to keep her dog on a leash, endangering the life of the Black man, especially in the wake of recent police brutality incidents.

Karen was also the name of the Amanda Seyfried character in Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan. Karen was also featured in a sketch by Dane Cook entitled “The Friend Nobody Likes.”

The Popularity of the Name Karen

While the name Karen was one of the most popular names of the 1960s, with its recent emergence in pop culture, the popularity of the name Karen has gone down significantly. According to social security data, the name Karen was most popular in 1965 and was the 4th most popular baby name for girls. 

However, over the years, it has had a progressive decline. According to News Nation Now, from 2019 to 2020, the popularity of the name Karen has dropped by over 25%. This is likely related to the meme and negative associations with the name Karen that has risen in recent years. 

How Can Karen Be Used in a Sentence?

The word Karen is most commonly used as a slang term on social media and is only ever used to call someone a name. The noun Karen refers to a person who is entitled and obnoxious. In the sentences below, see if you can identify why a person is called a Karen.

Example #1: Karen at the Car Wash

In this first example, someone approaches a Karen at a car wash:

Stop yelling at the poor guy who is wiping down your car, Karen. You don’t need to scream at him for using the wrong type of towel or threaten to “send him back to Mexico.” You’re being insane.

In this example, the woman is called a Karen because she screamed at a man working at a car wash for using the wrong type of towel and was racist toward him. 

Example #2: Karen at the Clothing Store

In this next example, a Karen interacts with a salesperson at a clothing store.

Salesperson: I’m sorry, ma’am, but we can’t give you a refund in cash. Unfortunately, the system only lets me process a refund back onto the original payment method. Do you have that credit card with you?

Karen: No, I don’t, you idiot. They’ve refunded me in cash a million times. Go get your manager.

Here, the woman is a Karen because she is rude and entitled to the salesperson.

Other Baby Girl Names Starting With K

If you like the name Karen but are worried about the potential association with the meme, you can opt for another name that starts with K for your baby. 

Take a look at this list of baby girl names starting with the letter K from The Bump and see which ones you like the best! Will your new baby be a Koen, a Kailey, or a Kadence?

  • Kassidy
  • Kalina
  • Kenzie
  • Kaia
  • Kamryn
  • Kiana
  • Kaleah
  • Karlee
  • Kathleen
  • Kali
  • Kace
  • Kailyn
  • Kora
  • Kamilah
  • Karma
  • Kayleigh
  • Karleigh
  • Kennedy
  • Kacey
  • Kamille
  • Karlie
  • Kari
  • Koen
  • Kylah
  • Kellan
  • Kristina
  • Kai
  • Kaya
  • Kyleigh
  • Kaelyn
  • Keilani
  • Kaycee
  • Khloe
  • Kaylin
  • Kyra
  • Keily
  • Kristian
  • Kailey
  • Kyle
  • Kailani
  • Kendall
  • Kaylie
  • Kelly
  • Kalia
  • Kailee
  • Kori
  • Kenna
  • Karina
  • Kallie
  • Karmen
  • Kelsey
  • Karis
  • Kira
  • Kaylee
  • Khadija
  • Katerina
  • Kenia
  • Kayla
  • Kalani
  • Kaylynn
  • Kara
  • Kimber
  • Kamilla
  • Kody
  • Keziah
  • Kimberly
  • Kylee
  • Keren
  • Kadence
  • Kamari
  • Karson
  • Kameron
  • Kellen
  • Katie
  • Kaitlyn
  • Kate
  • Kylen
  • Kit
  • Keira
  • Kiera
  • Kyndall
  • Kiara
  • Kashmir
  • Kasey
  • Kenya
  • Kodi
  • Karter
  • Kamila
  • Katelyn
  • Katalina
  • Kathryn


The word Karen is most commonly used as a meme to describe entitled white people who use their privilege to get whatever they want. Often, a Karen is obnoxious and racist toward Black people or other people of color. The most common stereotype of a Karen is that they will always ask to speak to the manager. Do you know any Karens, or do you know anyone that has been called a Karen?


  1. Baby Girl Names That Start With K | The Bump
  2. ‘Bye, Karen’: Popularity of naming babies ‘Karen’ plummets in 2020 after moniker becomes a meme | NewsNation
  3. What Does “karen” Mean? |