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O RLY? is an Internet phenomenon, typically presented as an image macro featuring a snowy owl.[1] The phrase "O RLY?", an abbreviated form of "Oh, really?", is popularly used in Internet forums in a sarcastic manner, often in response to an obvious, predictable,[2][3] or blatantly false statement. Similar owl image macros followed the original to present different views, including images with the phrases "YA RLY" (Yeah, really.) and "NO WAI!!" (No way!).[4][5]


The phrase "O RLY?" was used on the Something Awful Forums at least as early as August 2003.[6] The original "O RLY?" snowy owl image macro is based on a photo taken by nature photographer John White, which he posted to the newsgroup alt.binaries.pictures.animals in 2001.[7] According to White, the owl's expression in the photo was due to the bird panting to cool off, similar to a dog.[8] The expression was interpreted by an unidentified person to say "oh really?", and the phrase O RLY? was added in large letters (using a font similar to Kabel) at the bottom of the image. The O RLY? owl quickly became a standard retort to disputed statements to express disbelief,[9] and was followed by other owl image macros with phrases such as "YA RLY", "NO WAI!", "SRSLY?" and a number of others.[8]

Outside of Internet forums, O RLY? has been referenced in various video games, including World of Warcraft in which the auctioneer characters O’Reely and Yarly are a reference to "O RLY?" and "YA RLY!", respectively.[10]

Hoots computer worm[edit]

In 2006, anti-virus company Sophos discovered a computer worm known as "W32/Hoots-A", which sends a graphical image of a snowy owl with the letters "O RLY?" to a print queue when it infects a Windows-based computer.[11][12] A Sophos spokesman said that it appeared that the virus, written in Visual Basic, was not written by a professional, but that: "it appears this malware was written for a specific organization, by someone who had inside knowledge of their IT infrastructure."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hogstrom, Erik (19 August 2007). "Cat-tales". Telegraph-Herald. Dubuque, Iowa. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Agger, Michael (21 May 2007). "Cat Power – You cannot resist lolcats". Slate. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Rohling, Simon (2 November 2007). "HALP! Therez LOLCats Evrywhare!". Telepolis (in German). Heise. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Langton, Jerry (2007-09-22). "Funny how `stupid' site is addictive". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  5. ^ Sutherland, JJ (May 16, 2006). "'O RLY!' Worm Confirms Faith In Humanity". NPR. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Fantastipotamus (2003-08-30). "What was the weirdest/funniest answer you ever put on a test?". Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  7. ^ John White (2001-02-17). "Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca)003 – Silly lookingface". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  8. ^ a b Patrizio, Andy (December 7, 2007). "O RLY? Thank Photoshop For Internet's Goofy Memes". QuinStreet Inc./InternetNews.com. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Clark, Neils; P. Shavaun Scott (2009). "Appendix C. Commonly used Internet and gamer slang". Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-4364-2. 
  10. ^ Arendt, Susan (January 4, 2008). "14 Pop Culture Easter Eggs in World of Warcraft". Wired.com. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  11. ^ Staff Writers (2006-05-12). "Sophos discovers hooting virus". CRN Australia. crn.com.au. Retrieved 2006-07-16. 
  12. ^ Khare, Sharon (May 15, 2006). "Owl Virus Targets Network Printers". Tech2. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  13. ^ "Hoots mon, there's a worm in my printer!". The Inquirer. Incisive Financial Publishing Limited. May 12, 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 

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