Olly olly oxen free
Olly olly oxen free (and variants: ollie ollie umphrey, olly-olly-ee, ally ally in 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[who?] 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. However, this may not be the etymology at all--"Olly olly oxen free" is suspiciously[clarification needed] close to the German phrase "Alle, alle auch sind frei," meaning "everyone, everyone is also free." Various calls used for such purposes have gone by the collective name of "ollyoxalls" in some places.
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."
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.
In popular culture
- The phrase or its variant appears in the following songs: "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, and "Trespass" by Ice-T and Ice Cube.
- 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.
- The song is also referenced in the Halo novel series as a seven-note whistle defined among the Spartan IIs as the "all clear." In Halo: First Strike, it is used as what can be assumed to be both a "we're safe" signal as well as a call for help or evacuation. 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 while admitted into as psychiatric hospital.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- "Google Translate". Google.com. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- In Portsmouth, England for example. Opie, Iona and Peter. Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959 p.143