Olly olly oxen free

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Olly olly oxen free is a catchphrase used in children's games such as hide and seek, capture the flag, and kick the can 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[1] (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.

The Dictionary of American Regional English says 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.[2] Various calls used for such purposes have gone by the collective name of "ollyoxalls" in some places.[3] Others speculate that the phrase may be a corruption of a hypothetical and ungrammatical German phrase alle, alle, auch sind frei (all, all, also are free).[1]

Variants besides Alle alle auch sind frie[4] include Olly olly in come free, [5] All ye early merchants free, Olly olly umphrey, Olly olly ee, Olly olly auction free, Outtie outtie let's be free, Olly olly oxen free, All-y all-y all set free, All-ye all-ye in come free, Ally alley ocean free, Olly olly ogden free, and Olly olly all's in free[citation needed]

Olly olly oxen free or a variant is the name of songs released by the Ted Weems orchestra (sung by a young Perry Como),[6] Terry Scott Taylor (on the album Imaginarium: Songs from the Neverhood)[7] and Amanda Palmer (on the album Theatre Is Evil),[8] of a film starring Katharine Hepburn,[9] and a video game by Night School Studio[citation needed].

It's been used on television, in episodes of The Twilight Zone,[10] Star Trek,[11] Seinfeld,[12] and Will & Grace;[13] in song lyrics ("Stranger than Fiction" by Bad Religion,[14] "Alpha Desperation March" by The Mountain Goats,[15] "Papercut Skin" by The Matches,[16] "Bad Girls Club" by Falling in Reverse,[17] "It's Raining" by Peter, Paul and Mary);[18] films (Lavender,[19] Happy Death Day,[20] The Nines;[21], Mother's Day)[22]; the comic strip Peanuts;[23] and the novels Mother Night[24] and Thirteen Reasons Why[25]


  1. ^ a b Tukey, Paul Boardway; Rowell, Victoria (2012). Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games. Storey Pub. pp. 13–. ISBN 9781603425605. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ In Portsmouth, England for example. Opie, Iona and Peter. Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Clarendon, 1959 p.143
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Tabler, Dave (June 8, 2010). "Ollie Ollie In Come Free!". appalachianhistory.net. Dave Tabler. Archived from the original on 2010-06-18. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  6. ^ Macfarlane, Malcolm; Crossland, Ken (2012-05-10). Perry Como: A Biography and Complete Career Record. McFarland. p. 26. ISBN 9781476600246. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  7. ^ "VGMdb – Imaginarium: Songs from the Neverhood". Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Piano Is Evil, by Amanda Palmer". Amanda Palmer. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  9. ^ Mann, William J. (2006-10-03). Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 487–. ISBN 9780805076257. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  10. ^ "The Twilight Zone (1959) s03e21 Episode Script - Kick the Can". Springfield! Springfield!.
  11. ^ "The Star Trek Transcripts – Miri". www.chakoteya.net.
  12. ^ "Seinfeld Scripts – The Pool Guy". SeinfeldScripts.
  13. ^ ""The Blonde Leading the Blind"". www.durfee.net.
  14. ^ "Stranger Than Fiction lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  15. ^ "Alpha Desperation March". Superplayer. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  16. ^ "Papercut Skin lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  17. ^ "Falling in Reverse - Fashionably Late". Allmusic.
  18. ^ Peter, Paul and Mary – It's Raining, retrieved 2019-04-04
  19. ^ Schager, Nick (19 April 2016). "Film Review: 'Lavender'".
  20. ^ "Happy Death Day (2017) Movie Script". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "Nines, The (2007) Movie Script". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mother's Day Quotes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  23. ^ "Peanuts by Charles Schulz for October 03, 1955". www.gocomics.com.
  24. ^ Matthew Gannon. "Vonnegut in Jerusalem: A Report on the Absurdity of Language and Media". Vonnegut Review. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  25. ^ Madeleine Buckley (March 31, 2017). "All the Ways Netflix's 13 Reasons Why Is Different From the Book". Vulture. Retrieved March 18, 2019.