Chinese whispers (some Commonwealth English), or telephone (American English and Canadian English), is an internationally popular children's game in which messages are whispered from person to person and then the original and final messages are compared. This sequential modification of information is called transmission chaining in the context of cultural evolution research, and is primarily used to identify the type of information that is more easily passed on from one person to another.
Players form a line or circle, and the first player comes up with a message and whispers it to the ear of the second person in the line. The second player repeats the message to the third player, and so on. When the last player is reached, they announce the message they just heard, to the entire group. The first person then compares the original message with the final version. Although the objective is to pass around the message without it becoming garbled along the way, part of the enjoyment is that, regardless, this usually ends up happening. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly from that of the first player, usually with amusing or humorous effect. Reasons for changes include anxiousness or impatience, erroneous corrections, or the difficult-to-understand mechanism of whispering.
The game is often played by children as a party game or on the playground. It is often invoked as a metaphor for cumulative error, especially the inaccuracies as rumours or gossip spread, or, more generally, for the unreliability of typical human recollection.