The term "Karen" and it's misuse

We’ve had many threads on here about Karen’s and even a forum game dedicated to acting like one. In popular culture the name is given to women and men when they act entitled or rude to people who are usually just trying to do their job.

Most uses of the name are completely correct in my personal opinion. There are genuinely some people out there who act terribly to people they percieve as beneath them and they deserve to be called out for that behaviour.

However, I’ve seen instances where the word is being used on people who…weren’t really being entitled. Which lead me to find more videos of people accusing the person they were filming of being a Karen, when it was actually the person filming that was the issue or they were both just terrible people. Or people telling Karen stories where it just seems as though they weren’t actually dealing with a Karen.

There are also some instances where the Karen clearly has some obvious mental health issues and while it doesn’t excuse bad behaviour, it can certainly help explain it.

Many of these are staged anyway!

In my view none of these things are inherently Karenisms:

  • Sending food back if it’s wrong, especially if it’s not even close to the correct dish, mistakes happen
  • Pointing out if someone has made a pretty serious error
  • Asking to see a manager if one is needed

The “Karen” can only be applied to people who are rude and entitled with their demands. People who refuse to see the other side or even step back if they’re feeling angry from a situation. I’m pretty sure most people would agree with me on this.

The key words are “rude” and “entitled” and pointing out a problem isn’t inherently rude or entitled. It’s how it’s done.


  • Have you ever seen the term misused and if you have then how was it misused?
  • Do you believe it can be misused or do you think all instances of someone being named that way are credible?
  • Have you ever watched the YouTube compilations of Karen behaviour?

this is a very interesting take, i’m not familiar with Karen videos so that may explain why i hadn’t thought of it this way, but i think it makes a lot of sense to reach this one conclusion at times
I’m only familiar with some of the most extreme cases of this (like the mcdonalds coffee lawsuit (although idk if that one’s too old to have the cultural description of a Karen)) where the people mocking the “Karen” are either misinformed at best, or actively trying to save face from being rightfully accused of endangering someone at worst


i don’t recall seeing it misused (or even used that much)

i do believe it can be misused
and as i said above, it can be misused with an explicitly malicious intent

nope, i didn’t know they existed 'til now

1 Like

A few times, yes. For example, when some teenagers were in this lady’s backyard being noisy, and she told them to leave, but they refused to.

I think it can, because like you said, the term Karen should be applied to people who are rude and entitled, not someone who is pointing out a problem and trying to get something done about it.

I think I have, a few years ago. I’ve also watched comedy skits of people being Karens.


I think I know which one you mean and I don’t think that woman was a Karen, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was McDonald’s themselves who tried to make it seem that way.

It’s funny because mostly I see the term used on social media and occasionaly TV shows will pick up on it too. It’s not very commonly used in real life, at least not around me but I do have friends who work in retail who’ll be like “I dealt with a Karen today…”

Yeah I’ve seen one like that, also one where some teens were exploiting a broken gumball machine and laughing, then a woman pointed out their teacher was going to be paying for that so they should maybe stop.

Yeah I’ve also seen the deliberately fake ones where people will act extreme in their impressions so you just know it can’t be real and if it is then lord save us.

1 Like

yup, that’s more or less what happened

that would explain things then ( ← old man)
the only person i’ve heard this from has been my QPP, who has used it once to describe a customer at his job (and from the description, i think they were right to use the term that one time)

1 Like

Like others said above, I also saw a case of a woman being accused of being a Karen while warning a bunch of teenagers. I think the context was they were skating where they’re not supposed to, but when she came to talk to them they started acting really rude. And for some reason, she was considered a Karen in that situation?


Honestly, I have to admit now that year and years ago when the term “Karen” first came into circulation in society, I didn’t exactly use it but agreed with it when it was. Like, I laughed and yeah. Then my brain started thinking and put the word and the mean together, and now I’m just annoyed that it’s still used. I’m really a fan on having a description like this being used on a person’s name instead of a new word. Why does it have to be a person’s name?


Personally, I’ve never seen an issue with it being a person’s name, I have no idea why Karen was chosen, but it’s important to remember that it’s refering to a person who is “entitled and rude”.

The words “entitled” and “rude” already exist, as does the word a*shole, which would easily sum up that behaviour. I’ve also seen the word associated with being racist or just a general bigot.

I think “Karen” is sometimes just a name people give to the villain of a situation.

As for the fact it’s a real name, it’s just important to note that anybody who implies somebody actually called Karen inherently behaves this way is just blatantly wrong.

Any bullying that comes from this however, is just a reflection of a a thing we do socially where words/names can gain double meaning. For example, “Dick” is just short for Richard but it’s also slang for…you know.

Doesn’t change the fact that Dick is still a name some people have, a name which they do get teased for. Some people also mock the name “Kieth” despite the complete lack of double meaning.

I sometimes only see people make the argument you’re making about it being a real name, directly in response to “Karen” (which on this thread makes sense). But I don’t really see that same energy towards the names people use to perpetuate a stereotype about different races.

And anyone saying that the name “Karen” directly targets white people have failed to notice that…people of different races can also be called “Karen”. It may not be common but it’s super possible. Plus the behaviour a “Karen” can partake in, is not race exclusive. Anyone can be racist, anyone can be entitled, anyone can be rude. Anyone can treat a service worker like cr#p. It’s an extremely broad term.

Whereas the names used to stereotype other races are directly aimed at those races, to belittle and reduce them to a joke. They do this by attempting to pick a name which sounds to be from that area, loading it with stereotypes associated specifically with those races.

So I think approaching “Karen” like a fictional villain name, is a good idea. I think it’s just also good to discourage bullying based on what somebodies real name is. Nobody should want to change their birth name just to avoid bullying based on an internet term.

I’m not saying that you do this though, I’m more speaking generally about the way I often see this argument approached. I’m sure you are also aware of the issue we have as a society of turning names into jokes or giving them negative meanings they weren’t associated with originally.

1 Like