Posted by The Kraut on May 21, 2000
In Reply to: OLLY posted by ESC on May 20, 2000
: : Years ago when I was a child; now 50, we used to play hide and go seek using a variaion of this phrase. We used the phrase similar; as Olly Olly Entry, after the seeker would give up the search for hiding individuals, to re-call all players back to the starting place. This place was called gouls; as I remember it. To this day I do not know how to spell it. But, as I think back, it may have been a meaning or pronounciation of GOAL. I am NOW sure that Olly Olly Oxen Free, was definitly was the true phrase of mis-pronounced Olly Olly Entry.This memory of the game hide and seek was played in Methuen, Massachusetts. This Town was also an English settled area, founded by The Searles, Nevins,and Lowell families of Royalty.However I do not think or know if olly olly oxen free is/was originated there in relation to hide and seek. Hope this helps. My question on the subject still remains unanswered.
: There's bound to be a book on children's games. What was your original question, the meaning of "olly olly oxen free"?
: I have a really neat book, "American Children's Folklore: A Book of Rhymes, Games, Jokes, Stories, Secret Languages, Beliefs and Camp Legends for Parents, Grandparents, Teachers, Counselors and All Adults Who Were Once Children" by Simon J. Bronner. (August House, Little Rock, 1988.) Catchy title isn't it?
: It doesn't have what you're looking for. But, like I said, I'll bet someone has written a book with all the old games.
I've seen this before - the phrase is probably derived from the English ear hearing the German expression "Alle, alle alle sind frie" which means "all are free" - the game of hide and seek is over.