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Kevinism (wikipedia.org)
91 points by rococode on Aug 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 82 comments

My name is Kevin. I'm 27 and I'm from (west) germany. Most people I get to know will bring the topic up. I got a master's degree in physics and I have heard people say something like 'your name doesn't fit your profile at all' more times than I can count. I've seen girls in my sphere discard guys on Tinder partly due to being named Kevin. People do joke about the name and that's ok. It's not terrible but it isn't great either.

same. being named kevin is a hard life in germany, but sometimes i can't help but wonder if it actually benefited me in some way. it tought me a great lesson about people being spiteful without realising it, just because it's been established by the social environment that you live in. while some people are just consciously being dickheads, others might have this negative stigma associated with the name Kevin without ever meeting a person named Kevin. to me this is fascinating and in my opionion extends in some ways to people being racist or homophobic without ever meeting people of the "other group".

> ... people being racist or homophobic without ever meeting people of the "other group".

In my limited experience, this is the norm, not an exception.

What is even more entertaining is that when they do know people from the other group, they have a habit of treating them as shining exceptions to the rule, not questioning whether or not the rule is even valid.

> they have a habit of treating them as shining exceptions to the rule, not questioning whether or not the rule is even valid.

That doesn't stop with the -ism's, I routinely run into programmers learning about DRY and cargo-culting the hell out of it. People seize onto absolute rules and superficiality, failing to consider deeper conceptual dissimilarities that would negate the application of the rule.

"no, that's different. [name] is my friend!"

"The Exception That Proves The Rule":

Yes, you can interpret it so it makes sense.

No, that sensible interpretation isn't the one that caught on.

It has a nasty symbiotic relationship with the "But you're one of the good ones" phenomenon, which is what you're more directly referring to.

Have you heard the Johnny Cash song "Boy named Sue"?

My name is Chad, similar deal.

Just play the part bro.

At least your name isn't Virgin

Edit: Might as well leave a link for regular people https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/virgin-vs-chad

From the article: "The word "Alpha-Kevin" (combination of Alpha male and the given name), as being representative of a particularly unintelligent young person, was, for a time, at the top of the list, which was the subject of a 2015 online poll for the Word of the year (Germany) and, particularly, the youth word of the year."

In your interactions with the other Kevins of Germany, have you encountered any of these Alpha-Kevins? Are they held in particularly high esteem in Kevinish circles?

What's missing in this article is the aspect of escapism. The mentioned names Ronny and Mandy were especially popular in East Germany for kids born in the late 70ies, early 80ies. I think many parents picked "exotic" names for their kids in some sense of longing for the places they could never hope to see. Maybe some simple way to be part of a larger world?

I could see the same mechanism in socio-economic disadvantaged parents. Their world is limited by money, not borders, but they still want to be part of the larger world.

The funny thing is that Kevin is not a very praised name in general either:


“What is a Kevin?

A Kevin is someone who consistently or greatly shows a complete lack of intelligence through incompetence of social and societal norms, or is purposefully antagonistic in their poor decision making. Remember the kid in your class who would constantly get in trouble for really dumb things? He was probably a Kevin. Family members, friends, coworkers, and classmates can all become Kevins.”

As a Brit, this is the Kevin that springs to mind


Or perhaps an example is better


Growing up, "kev" was a synonym for chav, townie, ned. At my waaaaaay-over-privileged rugby-playing school, we called football "kevball".

Where I grew up, before chavs they were called 'Car Park Kevs' (though in my wife's town they were called 'Barrys'

Even that meaning of "Kevin" has changed.

Harry Enfield's Kevin the Teenager has very middle class parents (for those not from the UK we regard "middle class" as describing a much wider social group than say in the USA where it might be based on income. It's basically not working class and not a member of the aristocracy. Could be a QC, a CEO or school teacher.)

The earlier meaning was more pejorative and something closer to a being a "chav". Like chavs in the early 00s were supposed to wear fake Burberry check products, kevs were supposed to wear white socks and black shoes. I have no idea why.

The American middle class is pretty broad, too. MDs are middle class, as are contractors and most, if not all, office workers; there's a divide between upper middle class and lower middle class, however.

> for those not from the UK we regard "middle class" as describing a much wider social group than say in the USA where it might be based on income. It's basically not working class and not a member of the aristocracy. Could be a QC, a CEO or school teacher.

I don't know what a QC is, but a CEO of a non-Fortune 500 company would probably be upper middle class, and a school teacher would be lower middle class unless they're in a very expensive private school. I don't know that it's strictly based on income, necessarily, as much as how much independence the job provides; whether it's a job or a career, in other words.

A QC is Queen’s Council[1]

Actually your definition is not that dissimilar to what we’d understand too. I think it’s not too different to white collar vs blue collar. Attitude to education fits in there somewhere too.

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen's_Counsel

Y'know, I'm aware that the "Kevin" meme originated with an askreddit story (which someone else linked below), but I'm wondering if the reason it took off the way it did had anything to do with Kevin from the US version of The Office, who fits that stereotype to a T.


As a Kevin, reading the original story that spawned that subreddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/219w2o/whos_the_...) is pretty entertaining. I don't know that I've ever felt discriminated based on my name, but I've had people tell me things (namely in Germany/Germans) about the association.

Fellow Kevin here. While I was doing a fellowship [0] at the US Census Bureau last summer, I noticed a peculiar abundance of other Kevins working there. As a joke, I created this presentation [1] about this phenomenon, which I ended up accidentally showing the chief marketing officer.

He loved it.

[0] https://www.codingitforward.com/fellowship

[1] https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/117Q3zuyWulkDGcGXp4Bd...

you guys should unionize

where do I sign up?

You're better off sticking with the long established names of your culture. My parents picked really boring names (as I thought) for our family. We were named after our grandparents. We used to regularly chastise them for this when we were young. Now I'm glad of it. I could have been called Calvyn.

In some french-speaking countries, script-kiddies are sometime called Kévin. I'm not sure if is a reference to the famous Kevin Mitnick or to Kevin from the movie Home Alone or some kind of Kevinism.

These last years, I also hear people using "Jean-Kévin" instead.

"Kevin is not a name but a diagnosis" is a well known saying amongst school teachers here in Germany.

»Kevin ist kein Name, sondern eine Diagnose!«

Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour?

I can confirm that it applies to other countries of the region. I think it's a result of this wild fascination with America that came after the fall of Soviet Union. People westernised quickly and without much reflection upon the process and are giving idiotic names to their kids. "Brajan" (phonetic for Brian) and "Dżesika" (Jessica) are already memes in Poland.

> The word "Alpha-Kevin" (combination of Alpha male and the given name), as being representative of a particularly unintelligent young person

Alpha-Kevin is a term I'll have to use more often

This is the first time I heard that about the name Kevin! I've heard a similar stereotype about "Chad" though.

In Hungary the equivalent would be Roma families naming their children after foreign soap opera characters (e.g. Bobby [Ewing] in the 90s), footballers and other famous people, especially Latin American ones. By law names have to conform to Hungarian orthography (except if the parents have immigrant background)

Examples: Rikárdó, Armandó, Rodrigó, Dzsenifer (Jennifer), Dzsesszika (Jessica), Brájen (Brian), Dzsásztin (Justin), Brendon, Szamanta, Eszmeralda

Seems to be a universal thing across many countries that people in low socio-economic classes (black people in the US or Roma in Eastern Europe) give more, let's say, "unusual" names to their kids.

Naming things is hard. Naming people is harder. Many (most?) expecting parents spend hours researching names online or in "1000 baby name ideas"-books. My parents love my name. I hate it.

There are too many of us for names to be a unique identifier. First names are too generic to say anything about us, and they're usually assigned at birth, before any of our traits are known.

Family names are even worse; here's your father's last name glued on to yours, for no apparent reason. Or maybe your mother's. Or, if you want, in Belgium, a hyphenated version of both parents', but excluding any hyphenated part of theirs. This somehow implies that family is important, but only a small part of your family? I don't get that in a modern context.

Iain M Banks had an interesting take on multi-part names in The Culture, with the naming scheme at least featuring a chosen name. But sadly also including things you have no control over, like place of birth and parentage.

Letting everyone pick their own name would be nice. That's apparently already possible in some parts of the world, but not everywhere. And often you can only change it if your name is truly ridiculous or if you share a name with a serial killer or some such.

It depends on the jurisdiction. In the Netherlands changing your given name(s) is possible if you can convince a judge of its negative impact on you. Gender transitioning is an obvious rationale, but a well-worded explanation of why your current name doesn't match who you are or damages you (e.g., past traumatic experiences, abuse, but also a name simply not suiting you) tends to suffice.

It's not something you can get done at a whim or frequently of course. The judge will weigh the needs of society (i.e., to be able to consistently refer to citizens by a constant name in various types of records) against your personal motivation for changing names.

The US is much more liberal about this. You have to pay a fee and put in some paperwork and make an announcement in a news paper with a certain amount of readers and a judge will deny requests that violate a very limited set of common sense criteria.

Sometimes the judges can get a bit lazy about actually filtering requests. Jesus Christ literally lives in New York.

> and make an announcement in a news paper with a certain amount of readers

And even that depends on what state you're in. For example, Texas doesn't require it (source: I legally changed my name in Texas in 2014).

And some states that do require it can waive the requirement if you can demonstrate that you have legitimate privacy concerns and the judge is sympathetic; e.g. if you're changing your name to hide from an abusive family member or if you're transgender.

On the other hand, many states require a clean record in order to change your name. Using Texas as an example again, I had to do a fingerprint background check before they would even schedule my court date. My record was clean, but if I had a criminal record, I would've only been allowed to change my name under limited circumstances.

Why would a judge in a nation that separates state and religion care about someone calling himself Jesus Christ? Jesus is a common given name, and Christ a common enough surname.

(Or Kris Kringle for that matter.)

It's not about "calling himself" Jesus Christ so much as convincing others that he is literally Jesus Christ. Basically it's a form of fraud (or maybe insanity, who knows)

One of the common sense criteria is you're not allowed to assume the identity of well known public figures or entities.

In the UK it's even more liberal - you need a piece of paper and some witnesses' signatures. I knew Mr 118 Taxi back when he thought a name change might help promote his business...

You don't even need that. You can just start using a new name - perfectly legal in the UK.[1]

You need to execute a 'deed poll' if you want the new name recorded on official documents, or accepted by organisations like banks. [1] www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll

> Many (most?) expecting parents spend hours researching names online or in "1000 baby name ideas"-books.

Too right. When we had to name a child, I took all the CSV files of every child names in Scotland for last 15 years (Scottish Government provides all the raw statistics for every name) and loaded the data set into elasticsearch where I was then able to construct visualisations and trends of candidate names and get ideas etc.

It is quite a burden to think of a name for a child.

That… is certainly an interesting approach. Did you look for particular characteristics?

My wife and I had a son this year, and took care to give him a name that would work well in any situation. He has two given names (we do too), so he has a backup name in case the first one doesn't suit him later on (my wife uses her second name, because her parents figured it suited her better after a year).

We didn't use any technology beyond the publicly availalbe Dutch database for given names in use, but we did look for a pair of names that would look good on a resume as well as work well in daily conversation. They are old names that should hold up well regardless of what is en vogue at the moment.

I hope he likes them.

Mainly was interesting to consider if a candidate name was popular in the past and not now, or in steep decline or steep ascent.

Old fashioned names are fine but I didn't want to choose a name that had just been popular 10 years ago and curse child with a faintly aunty-ish name for rest of her life, and didn't want to choose a name that might be about to become hugely popular either. At the same time didn't want a "unique flower" kind of name. A name with 10-50 children being named that each year and not wildly ascending or descending was in the sweet spot.

Here's an interesting visualisation for names and ages:


> Naming things is hard. Naming people is harder. Many (most?) expecting parents spend hours researching names online or in "1000 baby name ideas"-books. My parents love my name. I hate it.

Did your parents not give you multiple names?

My parents gave me multiple names, and I've done the same with my child. We gave our child a relatively short, practical name, with the other 2 names being longer and more "luxury". Same as I have. I also grew up with a mother who used her second name. The main annoyance I have is that my first name is common (therefore chance there's another person with same name around), and native variation in my country yet not easily pronounceable in English. I just use a different variation or shorten it.

As for the last name, I find the old Nordic way interesting. Iceland apparently still uses it, see [1] for details.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_name

> Did your parents not give you multiple names?

Multiple names are pretty uncommon here, except for multi-word names like Jean-Luc etc. There's an old custom of naming your child $first $godfather->first $godmother->first $last, but that's slowly dying out. It's why many Belgian males havie Marie as a third name.

---redacted as there is much better information in the response below---

It forever complicates your life as many official correspondences will ask if you've ever been known by a different name, and require you to provide documentation that the change was official and what your previous name was.

It's only a small hassle, and not many people do it as a percentage, but the option is there.

Sorry, but you've mangled the methods a bit.

> All of them are a little weird but one is free - you can effectively write to one of the courts in London to say you have been known by a different name for some time, so would like your official records updated to that new name - but this route is unconventional and somewhat archaic.

This is an enrolled deed-poll. It's not free, it costs £36. It's not unconventional. It's a commonly used method because it's the change that is most widely accepted by other organisations.

> The more often used method (deed poll) costs £35 and takes a couple of weeks

Deed-polls are free. You can write your own, or you can download a template from the Internet.

We don't have legal names in England. You can change your own name at any time, for any reason, so long as you don't have the intent to defraud. You can change it to almost anything you like.

There are three methods:

If you're over 18 you can just stop using your old name and start using your new name. This is just as valid as any other name change method. It doesn't work well because banks and doctors tend to ignore it.

The next step up is to use a deed poll. This is free. It's just a piece of paper saying that you've stopped using your old name and you're only going to be using your new name from now on. A deed poll is just a written version of the first step. For some reason having it in writing helps people accept it more. But some banks don't accept this form of deed poll.

The next step up is an enrolled deed poll. You take your deed poll and you enroll it at the Royal Courts of Justice and have it published in The Gazette. It costs £36. This form should be accepted by everyone. Because it's cheap, and because it's accepted by banks, and because it makes life easier, this is the version that most people chose.


Quite right, I had that confused.

Interesting to read that there is no legal need to enrol, and that statutory declarations or just affidavits can be used instead. But the enrolled deed-poll is the one that's going to make your life easiest AFAICT.

From a UK perspective, Kevin is not a very popular name either, and has a bunch of negative associations.

"Kev" has been slang for someone from a low socioeconomic background, possibly violent, often paired with "Sharon" or "Tracy" as a female equivalent.

So as an aspirational western name I'm not sure it works! At least for the English...

Yep, back in the 1980s and 90s "kev" was indeed used as a somewhat derogatory term in the UK.

The stereotypical kev was supposed to be seen wearing white, fluffy socks and black shoes (terrible faux pas that) and driving a Ford Capri (badly).

At the time this greatly amused me as a child because my well to do Irish grandfather, uncle and cousin were all called Kevin and nothing at all like the stereotype. Not sure if the term "kev" existed as a mild insult in Ireland but they were all aware of us using it... :D

It also applies here in France, especially northern/eastern parts close to Germany.

Well, not for Chantal, which is not a very exotic name here.

Somewhat in Italy as well. There's a scene in an 80s movie where two "coatti" (I can't really find a translation for this word. Let's say "white trash" from Rome) are deciding what name to choose for their hypothetical son. The guy would like to call him Kevin because "it gives a sense of respect".

Here's the scene (somewhat NSFW, I guess) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GUyKG96xlsk

Same in the Netherlands. There are a lot of names that will instantly identify you as someone born from parents hailing from the lower socio-economic classes.

If you meet a boy named Jayden (the present day Dutch Kevin I guess?), you can be pretty sure his parents didn't go to college. This information should be irrelevant, but in reality it is used by whoever they meet, consciously or unconsciously.

The problem with these imported and new names is that it places a long lasting, nigh indelible stigma on their bearer. A label that everyone can see — yet you'll never know if it affects someone's opinion of you. All you might know is that the net effect of your name is negative until society changes its perception of it (i.e., gets used to it).

> If you meet a boy named Jayden (the present day Dutch Kevin I guess?), you can be pretty sure his parents didn't go to college.

In Poland it's Brian for a boy and Jessica for a girl. Often spelled phonetically (Brajan, Dżesika).

Living as a (expat) Kevin in The Netherlands for many years and I've never heard this. Might be that my friends are just polite. Interested to know if this is well-known to those who grew up in The Netherlands.

Do you have an accent (preferably from the Anglosphere) that gives you away as an expat? The stigma (at least in Germany) basically doesn‘t apply to native English speakers (or at least much, much less so). Nobody here makes fun of Kevin Costner for being named Kevin. The stigma is specifically about lower class Germans frequently choosing certain foreign names for their kids.

Kevin was a typical nineties name: http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/nvb/naam/is/kevin

Home Alone came out in 1990.

Kevin does have some lingering association; the lower socio-economic class stigma is there, but not that strong. Keep in mind that for someone born in an Anglo-Saxon country, that stigma would not necessarily apply. It tends to be limited to Dutch-born folk.

Chantal on the other hand seems to carry a much stronger connotation of a lower class background.

Also in Spain. Kevin, Joshua, etc automatically mark you as being a gypsy. No Chantal here though, but names like Jennifer or Yolanda are arguably used to that effect too. Very, very surprised though to see this as an international phenomenon.

I'd argue these names are more representative of cani/quillo culture than gypsies though. The phenomenon is pretty universal, it has to do with the formation of lumpenproletariat.

There was a funny story going on in 2005: Ferrero changed the face on the packaging of the popular "Kinderschokolade" and many buyers didn't like the new face and were hence calling the boy "Kevin". There was even a campaign "weg mit Kevin" with 20.000 supporters, which handed over a petition to Ferrero.




Interesting. I moved to Germany several years ago and just assumed that the Kevins were because of an interest in Anglo names. I didn't know they had a stigma attached to them.

I'm trying to think of something equivalent from Canada, when I was younger, but nothing is really springing to mind.

I wonder how memes relate to this, like 'scumbag steve' and the various 'karen' jokes.

Yeah, the Karen/Chad/Becky phenomenon really makes me cringe. You'd think with recent culture shifts towards "wholesomeness" and "acceptance", turning someone's name into an insult wouldn't have caught on.

I found this on my desk one day in the 90s...


The article mentions a Uncyclopedia satire article helped kick off media coverage of this phenomenon. Here is the article:


Another strange difference between countries' perceptions is the Swedish princess Estelle's name.

I was on vacation in Sweden shortly thereafter, and while just about every German thought the name atrocious, befitting a prostitute, all the Swedes found it charming.

The article also mentioned Horst as having a particular association - what was the association?

Stupidity or clumsiness. Apparently it can't be tracked to any specific origin, the name just went completely out of fashion and the association seems to have emerged around 2000.

Here's a German article about it: https://www.welt.de/kultur/article163980590/Der-Herbst-des-H...

Basically the same as the other mentioned: Moron, idiot or dimwit. But the actual names used vary from generations and regions. Also I would say these name insults are mostly used by children and teenagers. As a somewhat effective workaround to avoid getting punished for using the actual swearwords.

Friends called their unborn "Horst" so that people (including themselves) had a name with which they could to refer to the future child, but at the same time the choice made obvious that it would not be the real name given after birth and that they did not want to disclose it beforehand.

I suppose that says something about the name's image.

Sounds a lot like Kyle in English speaking countries.

Perhaps apart from Scotland where it is a fairly common part of place names (e.g. Kyle of Lochalsh) - having said that, I don't think it's a very common first name here, perhaps because of that?

I'm English and I've also never heard of the name Kyle having any kind of prejudice, might just be an American thing?

According to https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/kyle "Kyle is an online caricature [...] "Kyle" is generally presented as rage-filled and aggressive, and he is a fan of Monster Energy Drinks and Axe body spray"

It also says, tautologically, that "Kyle jokes parody of a certain kind of person with a set of characteristics one associates with the name"

I've never heard of a negative stereotype about Kyle in America either.

Apparently you have yet to fall into the area 51 memehole.

The Kyle's are on the vanguard with their +10 Monster Energy buff

American, never heard anything bad about the name Kyle.

How about Karen?

I need to talk to your manager.

Fellow (German) Kevin here. I like how this topic is frequently being brought up again in loose intervals as if it is important to remind everyone every once in a while.

I can confirm that there is indeed a stigma associated with the name. As a white young male though, being grumpy about such thing would be quite disproportionate. In that sense, it sort of makes me get an idea of what it could be like to be ridiculed for something one has no control or responsibility about.

Oh, it refers not only to German people( Ukrainian people tend to give their children exotic names too.

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