"Karen" And "Chad" Are Now Both Extinct Baby Names

It might be time to talk to the manager. After years of use as insults, both the girl name “Karen” and the boy name “Chad” have gone extinct as baby names in the United States.

That was fast!

What does baby name extinction mean? Generally, while there’s no agreed-upon official moment, it’s when a baby name falls off of the top 1,000 most used baby names, as tracked by the Social Security Administration (SSA), for more than two years running after being on the list for more than two years.

While no one is quite sure of the origin of “Karen,” there are lots of theories, and it’s generally agreed upon that it fell into popular usage in the spring of 2020, during the COVID pandemic and the George Floyd protests. The first widespread usage was the Central Park Karen incident (which actually involved someone named Amy). In the incident, a white woman called the police on a Black bird watcher, Christian Cooper, who asked her to leash her dog according to park rules — highlighting the rampant and everyday racism in America.

After that, “Karen” has turned into a household name synonymous with entitled white women who demand to have things their way and who use their privileged status to their advantage while harming others. No one wants to be a Karen!

See how you might not want to name your baby that?

“Karen” has been on the SSA’s top 100 baby name list consistently since 1928, peaking at 4 in the late 1950s and then enjoying mid-level success up until 2020. In 2019, it ranked 661. In 2020, with just over 6 months of living in infamy, it fell steeply to 824. And in 2021, it fell off the chart altogether and has not returned.

Chad — sometimes referred to as the “male Karen” — has suffered a similar fate. The history of Chad as a slang term is a little longer and more convoluted than Karen’s, but the main takeaway is that it’s a somewhat recent insult. A “Chad” is a “dudebro” kind of guy who is insufferable to women, and the situation got even worse earlier this year when Taylor Swift called out the “Dads, Brads, and Chads” who couldn’t take her presence at NFL games.

Chad has been on the SSA baby name list since 1946 and was most popular in the early 1970s, when it peaked at #25. But since the name acquired more and more negative connotations, its popularity has tanked. In 2018, it came in at 896, and since then it has completely disappeared off the chart. Bye, Chad.

Brad, on the other hand, is hanging in there and going strong, in large part because the full name “Bradley” is still plenty popular. Thanks, Bradley Cooper, and other lovely Bradleys.

Of course, unlike extinct animals, extinct baby names do have a chance of returning, at any time, really! For example, my daughter is named Willa — a name that went extinct in 1963 and didn’t appear on the list again for almost 50 years! Now the name sits at a healthy rank of 396 in 2022.

So, perhaps in a few decades, after a new generation of people start having kids, and old memes die out, “Karen” and “Chad” might start being seen as fresh and different — or perhaps a generation of people will want to name their babies after their great-grandmother Karen and great-grandfather Chad.

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