Dear Edwin: My Husband Wants to Name Our Daughter ‘Karen’

by on June 16, 2022 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Edwin Decker

Dear Decker, I am 7-months pregnant with a girl and my husband wants to name her Karen after his grandmother. He says that he’s been wanting to name his child after Nanna Karen for as long as he’s known he’s wanted to have a daughter. I say no way and have put my foot down. I truly feel bad about it, but I am vehemently against giving her that name because of all the stigma that comes with it. Do you have any suggestions?

Carla from Escondido

Wow, Carla, what a dilemma. As someone who happens to be named after someone special (my father) I can relate to your husband’s wishes. I also relate to yours. And the worst part is that it’s one of those situations without compromise. Or is it? More on that later.

I’m going to assume that your concern over naming your daughter Karen isn’t because you think it will magically turn her into one of those Callous, Rude, Abrasive, Pushy (aka CRAP) Karens from the YouTube videos. Obviously there is no statistical connection between the name Karen and a CRAP-Karen. You could name your daughter Mona Lisa or even Xena the Freaking Warrior Princess and she will no more likely grow up to be a CRAP-Karen then if you actually named her CRAP-Karen.

But your concerns about stigma are valid. It must really suck to be a Gentle, Open-minded, Ordinary, Decent (aka GOOD) Karen these days. I have this image in my head of a GOOD-Karen moving into a new house and a neighbor, let’s call her Elsie, knocks on the door with a lasagna to welcome her to the block.

Elsie: “Hi new neighbor! My name’s Elsie Prejudger and I’m here to welcome you with a fresh-baked lasagna.”

Karen: “Hi Elsie [reaching for the dish]. My name’s Karen Goodperson and you are very kind to bring this lasagna.”

Elsie: “You’re a Karen? [pulling back lasagna]. Well, I’ll be leaving now. Don’t hassle my kids!”

Yes, Carla, there are good reasons not to name your daughter Karen, but what are the pros? Well, aside from the fact that nanna’s name is Karen, some of the baddest women in recent history are Karens and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that its current stigma will fade, and the name will return to the former glory they brought to it.

Take Karen Black, the horror movie goddess who taught the next generation of scary movie queens how to be hot and terrifying at the same time (Trilogy of Terror anyone?). Take Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who would punch you in the throat if you tried to Karen-shame her. Take Karen Blixen, who had the unfortunate circumstance of being named Karen (and almost a reindeer) but rose above it to write Babette’s Feast and Out of Africa. And take the least CRAP-Karen Karen of all time, Karen Carpenter, who died by anorexia nervosa – the least CRAP-Karen disease of all time.

Incidentally, all the definitions of Karen I found define her similarly. Such as Huffington Post, which describes Karen as a “pushy, coupon-loving, entitled, middle-class white woman who, in the face of even the slightest inconvenience at a store or restaurant, would very much like to speak to the manager.” Urban dictionary defines Karen as an “obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way . . .”

For what it’s worth, I feel anyone – not just middle-aged, middle class, white women – can be a CRAP-Karen: Young, old, rich, poor, black, Hispanic, Asian women and, of course, men can all be whiney, little witches. And while I don’t know the class or race of your family, it doesn’t matter because, like I said, I think the Karen stigma applies to all who are named it – unless . . .

As earlier noted, when I first pondered your query, I thought there was no possibility of a compromise. My initial feeling was that you can either name her Karen or not name her Karen, and that’s pretty much the whole of it. However, after some research, I think there may be a compromise after all.

The name Karen, according to multiple sources, is Danish and short for Katherine. Other variants include Caren, Caryn, Karin and my favorite, Karena.

So what about naming her Karena? It’s still a form of Karen and includes all its letters, in the same order, with an added “A” at the end. The best part is that it’s pronounced in a manner that would go unnoticed by even the most closed-minded Karen prejudgers.

Yup, that’s my advice. Name the kid Karena, tell everyone she’s named after nanna, and just be careful not to raise her as one of those spoiled, nasty, entitled, narcissistic, Ask-For-The-Managering, nosey, Call-The-Policey, complainy pains in our collective asses.

Straight up With a Twist Drinking Tip of the Month

If you opt for a glass with your bottled beer, don’t let the server pour it. Nothing against servers in general, but I’ve experienced too many times when they plopped it vertically into the bottom of the mug thereby murdering its effervescence. Beer should be poured at a 45-degree angle and this kind of mishandling makes it more resemble the chilled excreta of a depressed circus monkey than the crisp, effervescent adult beverage it’s supposed to be.

Edwin Decker (of Ocean Beach) is not a licensed therapist or psychologist. In fact, his only qualification is the 25-plus years as a bartender listening to the liver-aching of desperados and dipsomaniacs. Heed his advice at your peril.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Edwards June 16, 2022 at 1:11 pm

Sound advice, Mr. Decker! As far as naming your kids after a family member in general: I am so glad my parents didn’t select some of the freakier first names that dot my family tree. First names like Asberry, Coke, and Heath seem particularly onerous. And my beloved grandmother was named Clotilda but I’d never dream of saddling a descendent with that moniker.


edwin decker June 20, 2022 at 11:11 am

Wow, you dodged a bullet there Bob. Be funny though, if your name was Coke Edwards. LOL


Harry June 18, 2022 at 4:29 am

Bad advice. The Dad wants to name the child after his Mother! Does the letter writer want to tell her Mother in law she is a terrible person because of the name given her 40/50 years ago. By the time this child is walking, this “Karen” stuff will be forgotten or passé. BTW, I thought you were going to suggest giving the child Karen as a middle name as a compromise. Don’t give up you day job.


edwin decker June 20, 2022 at 11:14 am

The middle name idea is a good one, wish I thought of it. As for the rest, I stand by it. First of all the dad wants to name his child after his grandmother and I don’t think there was any insinuation by Carla (the letter-writer) that nanna is a bad person because of her name.


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