Olly olly oxen free
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Olly olly oxen free (and variants: ollie ollie umphrey, olly-olly-ee, outtie outtie lets be free, ally ally in free, Ollie Ollie in come free, ally alley ocean free, etc.) is a catchphrase used in such children's games as hide and seek 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 (as in which side is in the field or which side is at bat or "up" in baseball or kickball), or, alternatively, that the game is entirely over. It is thought[by whom?] to derive from the phrase "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.
There is also some speculation that the phrase originates from the German phrase "alle alle auch sind frei", which loosely translated means "everyone is also free". Mispronunciation of this by non-German children resulted in the current "olly olly oxen free". More information is available at this Urban Dictionary page.
The phrase can also be used to coordinate hidden players in the game kick the can, in which a group of people hide within a given radius and a "seeker" is left to guard a can filled with rocks. The seeker has to try to find the "hiders" without allowing them to sneak in and kick the can. In many areas the phrase used is "All-y all-y in come free", to tell the remaining hidden players it is time to regroup in order to restart the game. The phrase is announced by a hider who successfully sneaks in and kicks the can.
An old version of the phrase is "all ye, all ye, all come free."
In popular culture
- The phrase or its variant appears in the following songs: "Avians" by CYNE (hip hop group), "Octet" from The Light in the Piazza (musical), "Little Tiger" by Jason Collett, "Stranger Than Fiction" by Bad Religion, "Papercut Skin" by The Matches, "Alpha Desperation March" by the Mountain Goats, "At the Helm" by Hieroglyphics, "Love the Hardest Way" by HIM, "Ollie Ollie" by Flatfoot 56, "Drive" by R.E.M., "Play with Me" by Extreme, "Spore" by Ramona Falls, "Eagle Scout" by Dirt Bike Annie, "Saint Ex" by Widespread Panic, "Dimmer" by Bishop Allen, "It's Ok, But Just This Once" by Gym Class Heroes, "Olly Olly Oxen Free" by Amanda Palmer, "Sho' Improve" by Giant Panda, "Ollie" by The Brobecks, "Ally, Ally, Oxen Free" by Rod McKuen, "Hide and Seek" by Schematic, "Pretty Angry (For J. Sheehan)" by Blues Traveler, "Olly Olly Oxen" by Skrip, "Olley Oxen Free" by Terry Scott Taylor, "Bad Girls Club" by Falling in Reverse, "Olly Olly Oxen Free" by Hostage Calm, "Holy Water" by Astronautalis, "Trespass" by Ice-T and Ice Cube, "It's Raining" by Peter, Paul and Mary, and by Lupe Fiasco in "Poor Decisions" by Wale, "Hollie Ollie Oxen Free" by Go Radio and by Knytro in "Hotplate" by Moody Good.
- In the movie Flatliners, Kiefer Sutherland's character Nelson calls out the phrase whilst chasing down Billy Mahoney during a flatline session.
- In the movie Child's Play 3 a doll infused with the soul of serial killer, Chucky uses the phrase to call out his intended victim, Tyler, out of hiding in an attempt to steal his body.
- The main character George Lass in "Dead Like Me" (penultimate episode) utters the phrase after taking the soul of a graveling.
- In the video game Bugs Bunny Lost in Time for the PlayStation, the word is one of the unlockable magic tricks needed to reach hidden areas. By saying it, he is pushed up as if there was a spring below him. It would only work above a shining spring symbol.
- The song "Olley Oxen Free" by Terry Scott Taylor appears as background music in the PC game Neverhood.
- In the HALO novel series, the phrase is a seven-note whistle used by the Spartan IIs as the "all clear" signal. It is first mentioned in "HALO: Fall of Reach" and again in "HALO: First Strike." In the latter book, it is used as both a "we're safe" signal and a call for help or evacuation. Spoken over a private link communication, the phrase is known only to the Spartan IIs as well as very few outsiders. The receiving party, if they are aware of the whistle's meaning, will reply "Oly Oly Oxen Free, all out in the free. We're all free."
- The phrase was used in Season 3 Episode 22 of the television show Pretty Little Liars by character Spencer Hastings after she is found being 'Jane Doe' in a mental hospital.
- Additionally, a variation of the phrase-- "Ali Ali oxen-free"-- was used in Season 4 of Pretty Little Liars. It was written on a chalkboard and referred to that Alison should stop hiding and the note also said that whoever finds her, gets to keep her.
- In Seinfeld Season 7 Episode 8, "The Pool Guy", when Newman was running toward the pool to jump in he yelled the phrase, after which he lands on the pool boy.
- The phrase is used in Star Trek Season One, Episode Eight "Miri" by the pre-pubescent inhabitants of a secondary earth.
- In the original Splinter Cell, the phrase can be heard being called out by guards in the Georgian Presidential Palace.
- In Mad Men season one, episode 12 ("Nixon vs. Kennedy"), Ken Cosgrove happily yells out the phrase after Don Draper, the last senior executive in the building, has left, so the remaining staff can start their party.
- The phrase was used in The Simpsons by character Lisa Simpson in the episode Rednecks and Broomsticks after a game of hide and seek with the local Hillbilly children.
- The phrase was used in Are You Afraid of the Dark? by character Marshall McClain in the episode "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran" when Jack and Kenny Harris first arrive at the graveyard and once again by character Laura Ires after she comes out of hiding when Jack and Kenny see Old Man Corcoran for the first time.
- The phrase is used by Stimpy in the Ren and Stimpy episode 'Ren's Retirement'. When Stimpy shows Ren how to play golf, he shouts 'Olley Olley Oxen Free' instead of 'Fore'.
- The phrase was used in "Raiders of the Lost Muppet" (season 01, episode 04) of the Muppet Babies.
- The phrase was used in "The Mentalist" season 03, episode 21 ("Like a Redheaded Stepchild") to indicate that a criminal in hiding had been detected and should surrender.
- In the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Opening credits The Gromble shouts this phrase (Episode 33, Baby It's You/ Monsters Are Fun)
- The phrase was used by Baby Sylvester in the Baby Looney Toons Episode "The Creature from the Chocolate Chip".
- The phrase was used in The Twilight Zone season three, episode 21 ("Kick the Can") when a group of children played kick the can.
- In the 1981 made-for-TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow, the phrase is used by the child character Mary Lee after she sneaks out at night and runs to the house of her developmentally-challenged adult friend Bubba and knocks on his window. In a vain attempt to awaken him, she calls out his name and "olly olly oxen free!"
- The phrase was reinvented for the song Ally Ally Oxen Free written by Rod McKuen and Sammy Yates in a critique of aluminium oxide pollution. The song was recorded by The Kingston Trio and featured on their 1963 album Time to Think.
- The phrase was used by the character, "Marcie", in the original Friday The 13th as she is in the bathroom looking for whoever made the noises.
- The phrase was used by Joy in season 1 episode 19 of My Name Is Earl
- The phrase was spoken by the characters Hannah, Jessica and Alex in the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
- The phrase "I think it's ollie ollie umphrey" was spoken by Joe Mantegna's character "Mike" in the 1987 film "House of Games" when a potential con was discovered by Dr. Margaret Ford early in the film.
- The phrase was used by the Victoria character in episode 13 of season 2 in the TV series Mike & Molly.
- Opie, Iona and Peter. Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959 p.143; Bronner, Simon. American Children's Folklore. Little Rock: August House, 1988 p.p. 178
- Tabler, Dave (June 8, 2010). "Ollie Ollie In Come Free!". http://www.appalachianhistory.net. Dave Tabler. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- 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.
- In Portsmouth, England for example. Opie, Iona and Peter. Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959 p.143