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For other uses, see Hide and Seek (disambiguation).
Meyerheim Versteckspiel.jpg
A 19th-century painting of three children playing hide and seek in a forest (Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim)
Players 2+
Age range c. 2 and up
Setup time <90 seconds
Playing time no limit
Random chance Very low
Skill(s) required Running, tracking, hiding, observation

Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a children's game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player chosen (designated as being "it") closing their eyes and counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching the number, the player who is "it" attempts to locate all concealed players.[1] The game can end in one of several ways. In the most common variation of the game, the player chosen as "it" locates all players, the player found last is the winner and is chosen to be "it" in the next game.

The game is an example of an oral tradition, as it is commonly passed down by children to younger children.


Different versions of the game are played around the world, under a variety of names.[2] One derivative game is called "Sardines", in which only one person hides and the others must find them, hiding with them when they do so. The hiding places become progressively more cramped, like sardines in a tin. The last person to find the hiding group is the loser. A. M. Burrage calls this version of the game "Smee" in his 1931 ghost story of the same name.[3]

In some versions of the game, after the first player is caught or if no other players can be found over a period of time, "it" calls out a pre-agreed phrase (such as "Olly olly oxen free") to signal the other hiders to return to base for the next round.[4] In another version, when players are caught they help the "it" seek out others.

In one variant, once all hiders have been located, the game then becomes a game of tag where the "it" chases after all the other players and the first person tagged becomes the "it".

In India, hide and seek is played differently - if any of the 'hiders' touch the seeker and says Dhappa, then the seeker has to count again. However, if the seeker sees the hider before they manage to touch him/her and say dhappa, then that hider will be 'it' the next round, unless some other hider manages to 'Dhappa' the seeker without being seen.

In Brazil and Russia, the famous hide and seek has an extra step. the "it" starts counting with eyes closed and facing the wall while everyone hides. once the "it" finds someone, they must race to the spot where the "it" was originally counting and facing the wall and whoever touches that spot first, wins the game.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trafton, J. Gregory; Schultz, Alan; Perznowski, Dennis; Bugajska, Magdalena; Adams, William; Cassimatis, Nicholas; Brock, Derek (August 2003). "Children and robots learning to play hide and seek". Naval Research Laboratory. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ "hide-and-seek". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  3. ^ The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, OUP 1986.
  4. ^ Ollie Ollie oxen free, World Wide Words, Michael Quinion