By tracing the origins of Karen up until the Central Park incident, you can see how two separate threads of meaning converged to make Karen the label for an officious, entitled, white woman.
The first comes from African American communities, where certain generic first names have long been a shorthand for “a white woman to be wary of because she won’t hesitate to wield privilege at the expense of others.” Around 2018, people started posting pictures of white women calling the police on the mundane activities of black people. These individuals got labeled with hashtags like #bbqbecky, #permitpatti, #golfcartgail and #cornerstonecaroline.
The second thread emerges from stand-up comedy and Reddit. In 2005, Dane Cook performed a sketch comedy piece in which Karen is “that friend nobody likes.” In the sketch, she’s described as “always a douche.” This portrayal of a “Karen” is less about her racism and contains more gender-based critiques, which might be why some continue to call the Karen meme sexist.
New Jersey police officer Brian Porter — who delivered two babies during the first half of 2002 — regarding his success so far in having a baby named after him:
(In the case of the second baby, the baby’s father and brother were both already named Bryan.)
“[I]njurious” names [were] intended to mark slaves out by drawing upon naming forms not used by the dominant class. For instance, some are not personal names, but refer instead to places (London, Madrid, Dublin), animals (Zebra, Fox), or qualities (Amor). Another popular category includes names of classical figures (Cicero, Ancilla, Cupido). Such names functioned as cruel jokes: for instance, Scipio, a common male slave name, referred to the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, whose agnomen, Africanus, meant “the African,” in praise of his triumphs in battle in North Africa. Names of Greek and Roman heroes, philosophers, and orators were popular choices for male slaves, underlining their degradation and emasculation via their juxtaposition with these great men. Meanwhile, as Saidiya Hartman has noted, names like “Venus” for female slaves reflected and licensed the lasciviousness of European slave-owners toward African women, making such behaviors “sound agreeable.”
Welcome to this German tutorial on how to pronounce my name, Friedemann Findeisen. In the past, many of you have wondered why I have such an unusual name, and why it sounds so German. Well, I am German. You just can’t tell because my lederhosen aren’t in the shot.
[T]o my great surprise—the first name in recorded history isn’t a king. Nor a warrior. Or a poet. He was, it turns out…an accountant. In his new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari goes back 33 centuries before Christ to a 5,000-year-old clay tablet found in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).
It’s a receipt for multiple shipments of barley. The tablet says, very simply:
29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim
(But we don’t know for sure that Kushim was a human name; it may have been a job title.)
A second theory, from the same article:
Dated to around 3100 B.C.—about a generation or two after Kushim—the tablet’s heading is, “Two slaves held by Gal-Sal.” Gal-Sal is the owner. Next come the slaves, “En-pap X and Sukkalgir.” So now we’ve got four names: an accountant, a slave owner, and two slaves.
(Some scholars are Team Kushim, other scholars are Team Gal-Sal.)
“150” boy names: Ibukunoluwa, Luisenrique, Morireoluwa, Oluwamayowa
6 via 159
The following baby names add up to 159, which reduces to six (1+5+9=15; 1+5=6).
“159” girl names: Krystalynn, Charlotterose
6 via 168
The following baby names add up to 168, which reduces to six (1+6+8=15; 1+5=6).
“168” girl names: Oluwasemilore, Chrysanthemum
“168” boy names: Quintavious, Oluwasemilore
6 via 177
The girl name Oluwajomiloju adds up to 177, which reduces to six (1+7+7=15; 1+5=6).
What Does “6” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “6” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “6” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“6” (the hexad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They rightly call it ‘reconciliation’: for it weaves together male and female by blending, and not by juxtaposition as the pentad does. And it is plausibly called ‘peace,’ and a much earlier name for it, based on the fact that it organizes things, was ‘universe’: for the universe, like 6, is often seen as composed of opposites in harmony”
“They also called it ‘health’ and ‘anvil’ (as it were, the unwearying one), because it is reasonable to think that the most fundamental triangles of the elements of the universe partake in it, since each triangle is six, if it is divided by three perpendiculars”
“It arises out of the first even and first odd numbers, male and female, as a product and by multiplication; hence it is called ‘androgynous.'”
“It is also called ‘marriage,’ in the strict sense that it arises not by addition, as the pentad does, but by multiplication. Moreover, it is called ‘marriage’ because it is equal to its own parts, and it is the function of marriage to make offspring similar to parents.”
“They also called it…’measurer of time in twos’ because of the distribution of all time, which is accomplished by a hexad of zodiacal signs over the Earth and another under the Earth, or because time, since it has three parts [past, present, future], is assimilated to the triad, and the hexad arises from two threes.”
“It is also called ‘Thaleia’ [etym. Greek, “the plentiful one”] because of its harmonizing different things, and ‘panacea,’ either because of its connection with health…or as it were self-sufficiency, because it has been furnished with parts sufficient for wholeness.”
“6” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Six – the strength of a three, with a helpful influence” (reading 261-14).
“Six being the changes that have been made in the double strength of three” (reading 261-15).
“Six – again makes for the beauty and the symmetrical forces of all numbers, making for strength” (reading 5751-1).
Does “6” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 33, 42, 96, 123) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. For example, maybe your favorite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which highlights the number 42.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 6, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
I recently realized that many of the bands I listen to were named in honor of various 80s movies.
Ludo, Atreyu, and McFly were named for characters in The Labyrinth (1986), The Neverending Story (1984), and Back to the Future (1985). Save Ferris and Rooney both refer to Ferris Beuller’s Day Off (1986). And, logically, Say Anything comes from Say Anything… (1989).
This made me wonder how many other bands were named for 80s flicks. Turns out, quite a few:
As You Wish
Bog of Eternal Stench
Dread Pirate Roberts
Rodents of Unusual Size
Wax On Wax Off
(The above names came from the movies I already mentioned, plus The Goonies (1985), The Karate Kid (1984), The Princess Bride (1987), and Willow (1988).)
If these decades-old films are now inspiring dozens of band names, do you think they could be (belatedly) inspiring baby names as well?
For example, a childhood friend of mine had a life-sized poster of Ralph Macchio hanging above her bed for years. If she had a son, would she name him Daniel?
Will any of the lads who once had a crush on brainy Diane Court decide to name their daughters Diane?
Did bookish Bastian help catapult the name Sebastian (now ranked 72nd in the U.S.) into the spotlight, one generation later?
And don’t forget Cameron, Ferris, Inigo, Lloyd, Marty, Sloane, Sorsha, Westley…and hundreds more from other movies, like Andie from Pretty in Pink (1986), Elliott from E.T. (1982), Josh from Big (1988), Lisa from Weird Science (1985), Maverick from Top Gun (1986)…
For those of you who grew up during the 1980s: Can you trace any of your favorite baby names back to a specific 80s movie?
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”