Chinese whispers

Chinese whispers (uncountable)

  1. (games, mostly, UK) A game for several players in which a phrase, whispered by each person in turn to their neighbour, is often unwittingly misunderstood as it is transferred, to humorous effect by the time it reaches the last person and is compared with the original phrase.
    Synonyms: telephone, broken telephone, operator, pass it down, Russian scandal, telephone game, a whisper down the lane
    • 2014, Darian Leader, Introducing Lacan: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books Ltd (ISBN 9781848318793)
      This is no doubt the reason why children play Chinese Whispers. One child whispers a message to another and it travels around the circle of children, only to be revealed by the last member of the chain.
  2. (by extension) Any situation where something is changed or misunderstood as a result of passing through successive people or processes.
    • 2004, Helen Walters, 200% Cotton: New T-Shirt Graphics (page 141)
      Rightly famed for their year 2000 project, RMX//A Visual Remix Project, for which they remixed each others' work in a Chinese Whispers-style process, they have also printed T-shirts with their eye-catching graphics […]

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