Olly olly oxen free

"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] Another German variant is "alle alle Ochsen sind frei", meaning "all the oxen are free", which is a good reason for the oxen and their chasers to run.

Another variant besides "Alle alle auch sind frei"[4] is "Ollie Ollie in come free".[5]

"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].

See alsoEdit


  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.