Karen Name Meaning

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What Does Karen Mean?

Karen originated as a Danish name, arising from the Greek word Aikaterine, which is believed to mean "pure." Kaja and Katherine are both related Danish names. In French, the name can also mean "clear," though it retains the meaning of "pure" across most other backgrounds.

In recent years, the name Karen has been adopted as a meme for entitled white women and has declined in popularity as a result.

  • Origin: The origin of the name Karen is Scandinavian.
  • Gender: Karen is usually a girl name.
  • Pronunciation: KAH-rehn (Danish), KEHR-en (English), KA-ran (German)

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It’s important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular Is the Name Karen?

The name Karen saw its reign of popularity between 1939 and 1979. It was during these four decades that the name consistently held a spot as one of the top 50 most popular names, remaining in the top 10 between 1951 and 1968.

In recent years, the name Karen has declined significantly in popularity as a result of being used in a negative way to describe women who are entitled or demanding. It ranked No. 831 in 2020.

While Karen is most often used as a female name, it’s important to remember that gender does not have to be a deciding factor in naming your baby.  

Name Variations

There are several different spelling options for the name Karen:

  • Caren
  • Caryn
  • Karan
  • Karon
  • Karyn
  • Kerin
  • Kerryn

Similar Names

Other names that sound like Karen include:

  • Kareem
  • Karena
  • Karim
  • Karma
  • Kieran
  • Koren

Other girl names that start with a 'K' include:

  • Kaitlyn
  • Kassidy
  • Kate
  • Kaylee
  • Kendall
  • Kennedy
  • Kenzie
  • Kinsley
  • Khloe
  • Kristina
  • Kylie
  • Kyra

Suggested Sibling Names

Names that go well with Karen are:

  • Aaron
  • Diane
  • Kenneth
  • Kristy
  • Michael
  • Michelle
  • Nancy

Famous People Named Karen

Because the name Karen peaked in popularity in the mid-nineties, some of the most famous Karen’s were also born during that time:

  • Karen Carpenter, Singer
  • Karen Huger, Reality star from "The Real Housewives of Potomac"
  • Karen Clark-Sheard, Gospel singer

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options: 

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of the Name Karen. Updated 2020.