Yanny or Laurel? A robot's mysterious word is tearing the internet apart

Move over, The Dress. A new audio illusion has taken over the internet.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET analyzing tech trends while also writing news, reviews and commentaries across mobile, streaming and online culture. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

The internet has brought us the next thing to fight over, and it doesn't involve debating the color of a dress

Watch this: Yanny or Laurel? Both are right!

Instead, people on Twitter and Reddit are arguing over whether an audio recording is saying "Yanny" or "Laurel."

A user on Reddit shared the clip a few days ago, and people on the internet have been arguing over what they hear. 

Apparently, playing with the bass levels can help you hear both pronunciations. But even after listening to this, all I'm able to hear is "Yanny." 

Editor's note: Abrar is 100 percent wrong. It's totally "Laurel." Editor's note (from a different editor): Abrar is 100 percent right. It's totally "Yanny." 

A YouTube video also plays with pitches to try to understand how people are hearing different things. (I was finally able to hear "Laurel" here.)

Here's another that lets you hear both:

Cloe Feldman, the woman who posted the viral "Yanny" versus "Laurel" tweet, said in a YouTube video that she doesn't know who the creator of the clip is. But according to Wired (paywall), the origin traces back to -- of all things -- an opera singer hired by Vocabulary.com.  

People are fairly split over what the audio is saying, but team "Laurel" is in the lead, according to social media analytics firm Talkwalker. In fact, 53.9 percent of people hear "Laurel," while 46.1 percent hear "Yanny." And it's clearly been quite a hot topic, given there have been 746,500 mentions of "Yanny" versus "Laurel" measured over the last 24 hours, the firm said.

A US map based on geotagged Twitter data from the past week shows that Laurel totally dominates. According to the data, which was gathered by Sports Betting, only five states are predominantly hearing "Yanny."


Not a political map, but almost as divisive. 

Sports Betting

And if you're still scratching your head trying to figure out how anyone could hear anything other than "Yanny" -- or "Laurel" -- there's now a tool that can help you hear both.

Regardless of all the numbers, data and videos, it's inevitable that this'll continue to lead to plenty of heated debates. Let the yelling matches begin. Vote in the poll below and let us know what you hear!

First published May 15, 1:23 p.m. PT
Update, May 15, 7 p.m. PT: Here's what science has to say about this phenomenon.
Update, May 16 at 12:21 p.m.: Adds data on who hears "Laurel" versus "Yanny," and information on the clip's origin. 
Update, May 17 at 1:13 p.m.: Adds map of where people are hearing "Laurel" versus "Yanny," and information on a tool for hearing both words.