In Reply to: Red rover posted by Smokey Stover on May 19, 2008 at 15:17:
: : : What's the origin of "it's all over red rover"
: : A guess -- from the children's game.
: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Rover
: The game, or a version of it, is described thus, in a memoir by one who played it.
: 'Red Rover was another game we played. We called, "Red Rover, Red Rover, won't you come over?" The opposing team sneaked as close as they dared, then retreated, but were often caught before they had gotten to safety, and they too had to be our captives and work for us.'
: The usual phrase was "Red Rover, Red Rover, I dare you come over!" but obviously there are variants.
: See: http://www.one-roomschools.org/slate/slatespring2000.htm
: The phrase, "It's all over, Red Rover!" is a sort of play on words, using the ubiquitously known game-name "Red Rover" as a rhyming counterbalance to "It's all over." Only the first phrase provides meaning to the sentence, unless there's an allusion revealed only by the context, which you have not given.
The way I learned it in a very remote rural US school, probably 1944, was "Red Rover, Red Rover, send [Someone's name here.] over". Otherwise, pretty much as others have described. The thing of language interest here should perhaps be that the repetition and the rhyming within the phrase may have contributed to its survival.