How popular is the baby name Karen in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Karen.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Karen


Posts that Mention the Name Karen

Popular baby names in Armenia, 2021

Armenia

The landlocked country of Armenia is located in Western Asia and bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran.

Last year, Armenia welcomed over 36,600 babies — about 17,600 girls and about 19,000 boys.

What were the most popular names among these babies? Nare and Davit.

Here are Armenia’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Nare, 758 baby girls – a diminutive of Narine (which ranked 49th)
  2. Maria, 635
  3. Arpi, 540
  4. Mane, 493
  5. Angelina, 444
  6. Marie, 402
  7. Yeva, 396
  8. Mariam, 357
  9. Anahit, 338 – an Armenian goddess (related to the Persian goddess Anahita)
  10. Anna, 305
  11. Sofi, 302
  12. Ani, 294
  13. Ellen, 284
  14. Milena, 279
  15. Lyusie, 277
  16. Eva, 263
  17. Ariana, 259
  18. Adriana, 247
  19. Luse, 245
  20. Tatev, 237 – from the name of the Tatev monastery
  21. Yana, 231
  22. Gayane, 226
  23. Nane, 224 – an Armenian goddess
  24. Milla, 202
  25. Arina, 193
  26. Emily, 187
  27. Elina, 186 (tie)
  28. Sona, 186 (tie)
  29. Lilit, 176
  30. Natalie, 170
  31. Sarah, 160
  32. Amelie, 155
  33. Hasmik, 153 – means “jasmine” in Armenian
  34. Lia, 152
  35. Arevik, 148
  36. Mary, 146
  37. Susanna, 136
  38. Viktoria, 134
  39. Monika, 130
  40. Gohar, 123
  41. Karina, 112
  42. Lili, 100
  43. Sofia, 98
  44. Karine, 92
  45. Lusine, 89 (tie) – based on the Armenian word lusin, meaning “moon”
  46. Anush, 89 (tie) – means “sweet” in Armenian
  47. Lucy, 88
  48. Sofya, 83 (tie)
  49. Narine, 83 (tie)
  50. Astghik, 82 – an Armenian goddess whose name is a diminutive of the Old Armenian word for “star”

Boy Names

  1. Davit, 1,275 baby boys
  2. Narek, 859
  3. Monte, 647
  4. Tigran, 584 – a form of Tigranes, the name of several ancient Armenian kings
  5. Areg, 564
  6. Hayk, 550
  7. Mark, 507
  8. Michael, 448
  9. Alex, 385
  10. Aren, 355
  11. Armen, 346
  12. Robert, 339
  13. Daniel, 326
  14. Gor, 323
  15. Arthur, 321
  16. Aram, 318
  17. Leo, 310
  18. Hovhannes, 303
  19. Samvel, 298
  20. Alen, 287
  21. Ashot, 255 (tie)
  22. Arman, 255 (tie)
  23. Levon, 252
  24. Erik, 232
  25. Gevorg, 219
  26. Gagik, 213
  27. Vahe, 209
  28. Arsen, 195
  29. Sargis, 186
  30. Artiom, 176
  31. Vardan, 154
  32. Karen, 152 – In Armenia, Karen is a male name! (Tell that to the manager!) It’s a short form of the Armenian name Garegin/Karekin.
  33. Avet, 150
  34. Albert, 126
  35. Andranik, 118
  36. Van, 116 – possibly from the name of Lake Van…?
  37. Suren, 115
  38. Raphael, 110
  39. Max, 105
  40. Ruben, 100 (tie)
  41. Hakob, 100 (tie)
  42. Alexandr, 97
  43. Mher, 95
  44. Grigor, 94
  45. Harutyun, 90
  46. Vahan, 80 – means “shield” in Armenian
  47. Edgar, 75
  48. Menua, 73 (tie) – the name of an ancient Armenian king
  49. Henry, 73 (tie)
  50. Noy, 67

Here’s a link to Armenia’s 2020 rankings, if you’d like to compare last year to the year before.

Sources: Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia (2021 pdf), Behind the Name
Image by DenisStreltsov from Pixabay

What turned Valiant into a baby name in the 1940s?

The characters Prince Valiant and Aleta (in 1945) from the comic strip "Prince Valiant" (1937-)
Prince Valiant and Aleta (in 1945)

Names like Brave and Warrior have surfaced in the U.S. baby name data over the last couple of decades, but Valiant first appeared way back in the 1940s:

  • 1949: 7 baby boys named Valiant
  • 1948: 5 baby boys named Valiant
  • 1947: 6 baby boys named Valiant [debut]
  • 1946: unlisted
  • 1945: unlisted

Why?

My best guess is comic strip character Prince Valiant, who’d been familiar to newspaper readers for a decade by 1947.

Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur by Nova Scotian artist Harold “Hal” Foster is an action-adventure comic strip set in sixth-century England.

It is difficult to imagine the impact Foster’s “Prince Valiant” had on 1930s and 1940s popular culture. When “Prince Valiant” began, Superman’s debut in “Action Comics No. 1” was still over a year away. […] “Swipes” of Foster’s art can be found in the origin of Batman and in comics drawn by Jack Kirby, the co-creator of many of today’s movie heroes, including Captain America, the Avengers, the X-Men and Thor.

Other characters from the strip also influenced U.S. baby names.

The earliest example I’ve found is that of the maid Ilene, Prince Valiant’s first love. During 1938, Val fought rival suitor Prince Arn of Ord for her. The same year, the baby name Ilene saw a spike in usage:

  • 1940: 227 baby girls named Ilene [rank: 451st]
  • 1939: 283 baby girls named Ilene [rank: 397th]
  • 1938: 343 baby girls named Ilene [rank: 347th]
  • 1937: 248 baby girls named Ilene [rank: 412th]
  • 1936: 263 baby girls named Ilene [rank: 392nd]

Turns out neither suitor won — Ilene died in a shipwreck — but Arn and Val did end up becoming good friends.

Several years later, Valiant met Aleta, the grey-eyed queen of the Misty Isles. She became a central part of the storyline in the mid-1940s, and the characters finally got married in October of 1946.

As a result, the baby name Aleta saw a steep rise in usage from 1945 to 1947:

  • 1948: 227 baby girls named Aleta [rank: 551st]
  • 1947: 262 baby girls named Aleta [rank: 511th] – peak usage
  • 1946: 171 baby girls named Aleta [rank: 606th]
  • 1945: 102 baby girls named Aleta [rank: 737th]
  • 1944: 38 baby girls named Aleta
Graph of the usage of the baby name Aleta in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Aleta

Val and Aleta went on to welcome five children, 3 boys and 2 girls:

  1. Arn (who was named after Prince Arn of Ord) in 1947
  2. Karen (twin) in 1951
  3. Valeta (twin) in 1951
  4. Galan in 1962
  5. Nathan in 1982

The name Arn debuted in the data in 1949, and the name Valeta saw peak usage in 1952.

Interestingly, the three middle children were all named via contest:

After Val and Aleta’s twin girls were born, King Features held a contest to name them, but Foster reserved the right to select the winning entry. A young girl, Cindy Lou Hermann, sent in the winning names “Karen” and “Valeta” and visited Hal in Connecticut. For Val and Aleta’s fourth child, a boy who would become the king of the Misty Isles, John Hall won the competition with “Galen” after the Greek physician, Claudius Galen.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Valiant? (Would you use it?)

Sources:

Name quotes #95: Caoimhe, Warren, Jolene

From the apologetic M&M’s Super Bowl commercial :

“Sorry I called you Karen.”

“That’s my name.”

“Sorry your name is Karen.”

Some interesting thoughts on why only certain Irish names tend to be anglicized, from the Irish Arts Center:

“Caoimhe” has been consistently more popular than the anglicized spelling, “Keeva.” How did this happen when so many other Irish names appeared to make concessions to English spelling norms?

While Medb/Maeve, Sadhbh/Sive, Seán/Shawn and other names were popular at a time when the Irish language and pride in Irish identity was against the ropes, Caoimhe and Fiadh are names that rose in the ranks when Ireland was swaggering culturally and commercially. It was also a time when Irish language television and schools were making strides.

Caoimhe is one of the names given by parents to the first generation of daughters not expected to emigrate, who would grow up surrounded by people who would know that the “mh” sounds like a “v” in the middle or at the end of a word.

…And another quote from the same site that I just couldn’t leave behind:

Teachers warning their students of the importance of a fada will often point out that without the accent, Orla (‘uhr-lah’) would mean “vomit” rather than “golden princess.” However, Órlas have to live with this indignity in an online world where many websites won’t accept non-standard characters.

[According to this letter to the Irish Times, the same holds true for the names Méabh and Síne, which, without the fadas, turn into the words meabh, “hen,” and sine, “nipple.”]

From a Telegraph essay by Warren Watson (b. 1950), who had a “surprise” twin brother named Wayne.

So, what happened to the name William? […] It was the traditional family name for a Watson male, going back at least four generations in England and Scotland.

Fairness was paramount for my mom, you see. […] If I were named William, it would not be fair to my twin brother. So, neither Watson would be honored with the family name.

In 1950, she dug out a baby name book, purchased earlier at the Rexall drug store downtown. “Warren” and “Wayne” sat there in the same column. So, “Warren” and “Wayne” they would be. In alphabetical order, of course.

From Larry King’s 2016 interview with Dolly Parton [vid]:

Years ago when my song ‘Jolene’ came out, I came home one day from work, we had our new home in Brentwood, and there was a basket at the gate, and I thought, “Oh, somebody’s left us some food or something.” And I looked in it, and there was a baby in it, and there was a note that said, “My name is Jolene and I want you to have me. You can have me for keeps,” or something to that effect. And I freaked out.

[Dolly ended up calling the police, who came and took the baby away. She never found out what became of little Jolene.]

From a Condé Nast Traveler article about hotels using artificial intelligence, including robots with interesting names:

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the M Social hotel is using a front-of-house robot called Aura to deliver small amenities like water, towels, and toiletries to rooms. Another robot, Ausca, cooks your eggs in the morning. Elsewhere in the city, Hotel Jen uses colorful butler robots named Jeno and Jena to perform guest services that include in-room dining delivery.

From a 2014 Macklemore AMA on Reddit:

Mack-La-More is how it’s pronounced

Should have picked an easier name to say

Name quotes #90: Charli, Ottilie, Diego Armando

double quotation mark

Time for another batch of name quotes!

From a 2004 interview with Bob Dylan, as recorded in the 2018 book Dylan on Dylan by Jeff Burger (found via Abby’s Instagram post – thanks!):

Bradley: So you didn’t see yourself as Robert Zimmerman?

Dylan: No, for some reason I never did.

Bradley: Even before you started performing?

Dylan: Nah, even then. Some people get born with the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens.

Bradley: Tell me how you decided on Bob Dylan?

Dylan: You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.

From an article about the Dunkin’ Donuts drink named after Charli D’Amelio:

“The Charli,” which debuted Sept. 2, is a new Dunkin’ drink based on the go-to order of 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, who is currently the most followed person on TikTok with 84.8 million followers. D’Amelio, a Connecticut native, has regularly expressed her love both for Dunkin’ and her signature dance moves.

From an article about a mom who changed her baby’s name from Ottilie to Margot:

As for [mom Carri] Kessler, when all was said and done, she went back to the original Ottilie who had inspired the choice and asked what the name had been like for her.

“She was like, ‘Yeah my name has been really character-building,'” Kessler says. “And I was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me that before?!’ I feel like life is character-building. She doesn’t need a character-building name as well.”

[One of Carri’s friends now calls her daughter Nottilie, short for “Not Ottilie.”]

From Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram post about the loss of her third baby:

We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever.

From an article about how the name Karen has become a handicap in dating, according to the dating app Wingman:

Women named Karen say their love lives have taken a hit since the name became synonymous with pushy, entitled middle-aged women — and more recently, racist ones who target people of color.

[…]

According to the app’s data, women named Karen have received 31 per cent fewer matches this year compared to last, and messages sent by women named Karen got 1/3 fewer responses than last year.

Overall, Karens have seen a 45 per cent drop in engagement.

Women with other spellings of the name — Karin, Carin, Caren — have seen a smaller drop, 22 per cent, but a drop all the same.

From an article in The Economist about the unusual names of Tabasco, Mexico (found via A Mitchell’s tweet – thanks!):

[The unusual names] impressed Amado Nervo, a Mexican poet. In every family “there is a Homer, a Cornelia, a Brutus, a Shalmanasar and a Hera,” he wrote in “The Elysian Fields of Tabasco”, which was published in 1896. Rather than scour the calendar for saints’ names, he wrote, parents of newborns “search for them in ‘The Iliad’, ‘The Aeneid’, the Bible and in the history books”. Andrés Iduarte, a Tabascan essayist of the 20th century, concurred. Tabasco is a place “of Greek names and African soul”, he wrote, endorsing the cliche that the state has similarities with Africa.

From a newspaper article about soccer player Diego Maradona’s influence on baby names in Naples in July of 1984, soon after he’d joined S.S.C. Napoli:

Maternity hospitals reported another 30 new-born babies named Diego Armando, raising the count to 140 so far.

[Maradona died in late November. Last Friday, the Naples city council unanimously voted to change the name of the city’s stadium from “Stadio San Paolo” to “Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.” (CBS Sports)]

Where did the baby name Laryssa come from?

The character Dr. Karen Werner (played by Laryssa Lauret) on the TV series "The Doctors" (1963-1982).
Laryssa Lauret on “The Doctors

The name Laryssa debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1968, when it was suddenly given to nearly 70 baby girls:

  • 1970: 7 baby girls named Laryssa
  • 1969: 22 baby girls named Laryssa
  • 1968: 67 baby girls named Laryssa [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted

It was the name that debuted most impressively that year, and it went on to rank as one of the biggest girl-name debuts of all time.

The less-common variant Lyrissa debuted the same year, and the more-common variants Larissa and Larisa both saw higher around the same time. (Larissa jumped into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1967, in fact.)

What’s the reason?

An actress featured on the popular TV soap opera The Doctors (1963-1982). Laryssa Lauret played character Dr. Karen Werner, who was introduced in 1967 and had a heavy German accent. One writer later described the character as “the resident Teutonic trouble-maker.”

Laryssa Lauret, an American actress of Ukrainian descent, was born Larysa Kukrycka in Warsaw in 1939. She was raised in Austria for a time, then finished her schooling in New York. She shares her name with a martyr, a nymph and various ancient Greek cities. According to this Greek-English Lexicon, the meaning of the name is “citadel.”

The Doctors also influenced the usage of at least two other baby names:

  • Carolee saw a jump in usage in 1968, the year after actress Carolee Campbell originated the role of like-named character Carolee Simpson, R.N.
  • Sindee re-entered the data in 1963, the year actress Sindee Ann Richards appeared on the show for 5 sequential episodes as “Jennie.”

But getting back to Laryssa…do you like the name? How do you prefer to spell it?

Source: “Ukrainian Actress to Appear in TV Show.” Ukrainian Weekly 15 Jan. 1978: 4.

P.S. Sindee was put on the onomastic map in the 1950s by a baby-related news story.