Entries linking to Katherine
fem. proper name, from French Catherine, from Medieval Latin Katerina, from Latin Ecaterina, from Greek Aikaterine. The -h- was introduced 16c., probably a folk etymology from Greek katharos "pure" (see catharsis). The initial Greek vowel is preserved in Russian form Ekaterina.
As the name of a type of pear, attested from 1640s. Catherine wheel (early 13c.) originally was the spiked wheel on which St. Catherine of Alexandria (martyred 307), legendary virgin from the time of Maximinus, was tortured and thus became the patron saint of spinners. Her name day is Nov. 25; a popular saint in the Middle Ages, which accounts for the enduring popularity of the given name. It was applied from 1760 to a kind of fireworks shooting from a revolving spiral tube.
fem. proper name, Danish shortened form of Katherine. Rare before 1928; a top-10 name for girls born in the U.S. 1951-1968.
The modern pejorative use in reference to a person regarded as ignorant, meddlesome, entitled, racist, or generally negative, is attested by 2005, originally often with reference to meanness or stupidity, and exploded in popularity 2018, with more emphasis on the racism and privilege. Its use as rhetorical shorthand probably was encouraged, if not inspired by, the 2004 movie "Mean Girls" (screenplay by Tina Fey) and by comedian U.S. Dane Cook's 2005 stand-up act, both of which produced memes and Twitter references. Claims that it originated in African-American circles are unsupported.
Beth Harpaz's 2001 book "Girls in the Van," about Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign, reports that Clinton's assistants Karen Dunn and Karen Finney were known as The Karens. Finney went on to a career as a commentator, and some of the earliest abstract uses of Karen in the late 2000s are as the personification of a liberal do-gooder.