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Blast from the Past: Olly Olly Oxen Free Options
hedy mmm
Posted: Monday, May 22, 2017 12:44:33 PM

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Location: Borough of Bronx, New York, United States
Blast from the Past: Olly olly oxen free is a catchphrase used in children's games such as "Hide'n'Seek" or "Kick the Can" (my very favorite game), to indicate that players who are hiding can come out into the open without losing the game, that the position of the sides in a game has changed, or, alternatively, that the game is entirely over. (Other variants: olly olly umphrey, olly olly ee, outtie outtie let's be free, olly olly oxen tree, all-y all-y all set free, olly olly in come free, ally alley ocean free, etc.)

*Cassidy and Hall write that the phrase may be derived from 'all ye, all ye outs in free', 'all the outs in free', or possibly calling all the "outs" in free; in other words, all who are out may come in without penalty. Various calls used for such purposes have gone by the collective name of "ollyoxalls" in some places.

**Tukey and Rowell speculate that the phrase may be a corruption of a hypothetical and ungrammatical German phrase 'alle, alle, auch sind frei' (all, all, are also free). Another possible origin might be the Greek language. Óloi óloi éxowould translate to "everybody everybody out."

In popular culture Perry Cuomo released a novelty song in 1941 entitled "Ollie Ollie Outs in Free".

In the Oct. 3, 1955 Peanuts comic strip, Lucy calls "Olee Olee Olsen Free-O!" while presumably playing this game with the Peanuts gang. Violet corrects her that it is supposed to be "Ally Ally Out Are In Free".

Dennis the Menace, Season 1, Episode 18 (1960), Dennis says the phrase to call Mr. Wilson out of the closet in which he is developing film.

The Kingston Trio released a song in 1963 entitled "Ally Ally Oxen Free".

Author Dixie Cash, (a favorite author of mine) in her book, "I Can't Make You Love Me, But I Can Make You Leave", this phrase is misunderstood to mean "Golly, Golly Smell My Feet" (pg. 170)...the novel is set in Texas.

*Cassidy, Frederick Gome; and Joan Hall, "Ole Ole Olson All In Free", another way of saying it is oll-e oll-e ox-and-free Dictionary of American Regional English, (1985) Vol III (I-O), p. 874.

**Tukey, Paul Boardway; Rowell, Victoria (2012). Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games, Storey Pub. pp. 13–ISBN 9781603425605. Retrieved 13 September 2015.

I was inspired to write this thread because it's funny, enlightening, entertaining, and in reading Dixie Cash's' book it reminded me that there are many TFDers out there who probably remember this 'Blast from the Past' please enjoy.


"God graced us with today....don't waste it." hedy
Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2017 7:14:19 PM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
There was a game I remember - not quite hide & seek. We called it 'Releavo'.

The person who was 'in' had to stand by some marker (usually a specific lamp-post) and count to one hundred while the 'players' went away and hid.

The 'in' person then had to go and capture them by touching them and saying their name - at which point they had to go and hold on to the 'marker' (lamp-post).

The players could win by reaching the marker without being caught.

Any winner could release captives by touching them and saying 'Releave-o my name-o' and their own name.

Your phrase reminded me of two things - an old song called "Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen by the Sea" - and the 'war-cry' of several football teams (and the Kingdom of Free Cornwall) "Oggie oggie oggie!"

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
hedy mmm
Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2017 9:01:05 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/29/2014
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Location: Borough of Bronx, New York, United States
DragOnspeaker, your game 'Releavo' sounds exactly like America's 'Kick the Can', my favorite.

It starts out the same way with the person it' at a marker, (which is an empty soda can placed in a designated spot) counts to a hundred while players hide.

The only difference is the players win if they can reach the can on the ground and kick it to Timbuktu before being caught...there'd be no captives if they all reach the can and kick it too...of course, only the first player KNOWS where the can was originally, to kick it...all the other players would have to LOOK FOR the can kicked by a prior player, not knowing where it landed, and more likely to get caught....our 'winners' aren't so merciful and kind as in, there is no reprieve...than again, I'm in 'DA BRONX'...guess we march by a different drum beat. Whistle

I did Google your references to the old song and the 'war-crys' of football teams....Applause very very interesting...I love to learn, it really is my passion.

Thanks, hedy Dancing

"God graced us with today....don't waste it." hedy
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:44:47 AM

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Joined: 8/3/2016
Posts: 1,261
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Location: Jandiāla Guru, Punjab, India

A perfect Blast From The Past;

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
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