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O Rly Owl

October 12, 2012 by  

O Rly Owl, O RLY? is an Internet phenomenon, typically presented as an image macro featuring a Snowy Owl. 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, 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!).

The phrase “O RLY?” was used on the Something Awful Forums at least as early as August 2003. According to White, the owl’s expression in the photo was due to the bird panting to cool off, similar to a dog. 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, and was followed by other owl image macros with phrases such as “YA RLY”, “NO WAI!”, “SRSLY?” and a number of others.

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, and a white owl non-player character near Steamwheedle (at least until the events of Cataclysm) was called O’Rlly. An Australian sketch comedy show has used “O RLY?” and “YA RLY” as subtitles for the “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet.

It is also referenced in the game Heroes of Newerth, where one of the Heroes, Zephyr the Owl character, has a texture resembling the original white snow owl. Two cards in the deck of the Munchkin Cthulhu card game are named O R’lyeh? and IA! R’lyeh!, both depicting owls,and in Wizard101 during the begin part of the game a Snowy Owl that Headmaster Ambrose has named Gamma and Gamma said “Oh really?” in part of the Wizard Creator when Headmaster Ambrose was talking about the wizard (the player) that they found in the Crystal ball.

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