Posted by Bob on November 03, 2005
In Reply to: Olly, Olly Oxen Free posted by Dianne Sharr on November 03, 2005
: Olly, Olly Oxen Free
: I liked this explanation by Brooke Adams, in the Salt Lake City Tribune on 19 July 2004
: "Olly, olly oxen free!"
: "It is used by kids everywhere to signal it is safe to emerge during Hide-and-Seek games. But where did this nonsensical phrase come from?
: "I couldn't find a source. One game player guessed it had something to do with oxen, while another was sure it had Olde English roots.
: "After the Olly, Olly cry went up in Orem the other night, I asked a few kids where it came from. Shawn Fucile, 8, figured 10 year-old Zach Hedrick made it up. Nick Robinson, 11, knew better. No, that's what you say every time, Nick explained.
: My guess? All ye, all ye, come in free, which became mangled while passing from one kid to another: olly, olly oxen free. My husband says the full verse is, "Olly, olly oxen free; if you don't come now, you'll be I-T!"
You can check the archives to find many references to this phrase.