Yanny or Laurel? What is this viral recording really saying?

Laurel or Yanny? The question dividing the UK: Scientists say your age could determine what you hear in the audio clip which is confusing the nation

  • A new audio recording of a male operator saying one word has the internet completely divided over whether or not he’s saying ‘yanny’ or ‘laurel’
  • People are completely split over what word they are hearing and whatever word they hear is crystal clear
  • Originally posted on Reddit, the recording is sending the internet into a frenzy and some people can even hear yanny at first, then laurel and vice versa   

It is the rather unusual question dividing the nation, and indeed the world.

When you hear an audio clip which has gone viral, do you hear ‘yanny’ or ‘laurel’?

If members of your family disagree, that may be because older people are more likely than younger ones to hear ‘laurel’.

Or it could depend where you heard the recording, as a bass-heavy car stereo can change which word you detect.

Divide: A new auditory illusion has listeners either hearing a man say the word ‘yanny’ or ‘laurel’ in a new audio recording and it is dividing the internet

Audio illusion: In the audio clip you can hear a male operator saying one word but people are split in half over it because they’re actually hearing two completely different words


What do you hear?

What do you hear?


    475 votes

    725 votes
  • YANNY at first, then LAUREL

    139 votes
  • LAUREL at first, then YANNY

    31 votes

Now share your opinion


Stranger still, people who hear ‘yanny’ are more likely to hear a woman’s voice, while those who hear ‘laurel’ will hear a man.

Whichever word you hear, the debate dominated offices and living rooms yesterday, with celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry weighing in.

The phenomenon has echoes of the argument that arose in 2014 when people quarrelled over whether a dress posted on Twitter was gold and white or blue and black.

Academics have provided a range of explanations for the auditory illusion.

Valerie Hazan, professor of speech sciences at University College London, said: ‘The sound online seems to have been made deliberately ambiguous and people are being primed to hear ‘yanny’ or ‘laurel’. 

Good idea: One user suggested playing around with the bass frequencies until you hear a different word than you originally heard

How does it sound? This user was so shocked that someone heard ‘laurel’ instead of ‘yanny’ and asked what ‘laurel’ sounded like

Deep voice: The people that heard the word ‘laurel’ heard it in a deep male voice not squeaky

‘The issue is that this speech does not quite fit into the auditory patterns you expect for these two words so your brain is trying to find a “best fit”.

‘If your brain latches on to one of the high frequency auditory patterns, at around 3,000 hertz, that is going to push you more towards yanny.

‘If you pick up on another auditory pattern in the sound which is at a lower frequency of 1,000 hertz, that is more consistent with laurel.’

Meme: One user shared a hilarious meme saying she hears laurel and only laurel and that satan loves confusion

Positive: This woman was completely sure that she heard yanny and can’t understand how anyone could hear otherwise

Laurel: In reply to the woman, this user said she’s positive she hears laurel

Yanny: Meanwhile, another user said it is definitely yanny that she hears

Professor Hazan is one of those who first ‘110 per cent’ heard yanny in the morning, before deciding after a repeated listen hours later that she definitely heard laurel. The debate is believed to have started when an anonymous person called ‘RolandCamry’ posted the soundbite on internet forum Reddit, with the question ‘What do you guys hear?’

It was then posted on video-sharing site YouTube where it was shared hundreds of thousands of times.

Fry tweeted: ‘I’m puzzled that anyone can hear #Yanny – I hear #Laurel very clearly… I can’t even begin to hear #Yanny.’

Chat show host Ellen DeGeneres wrote on Twitter: ‘Literally everything at my show just stopped to see if people hear Laurel or Yanny. I hear Laurel.’

Last night it was claimed the source of the distorted recording was the online dictionary vocabulary.com. If correct, this would mean the original voice was saying the word laurel.

Black magic: While most people heard one or the other, this user heard both words

Repeat: This user listened to the recording a dozen times and still hears the same word

The dress: This new illusion is similar to the dress that took took the internet by storm three years ago over whether or not the dress was white and gold or blue and black (pictured)

Oh no: This person was not happy about a new viral illusion popping up on the internet

This new sound illusion is similar to the optical illusion dress that took took the internet by storm three years ago sparking a huge debate over whether or not the dress was white and gold or blue and black.

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