phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Olly olly oxen free

Posted by Gary Martin on November 02, 1999

In Reply to: Olly olly oxen free posted by Peter Robinson on November 01, 1999

: I am trying to learn about the history/derivation of "Olly Olly oxen free!" which in America we use -- or used to use when I was a child (I'm now 50) -- to culminate a children's game -- was it Hide and Seek?

: There is an intriguing batch of posted messages from Sheffield Hallam University which come up as a list when I search, but I have not been able to access their content.

: If you could give me a synopsis or otherwise-obtained understanding re. "Olly Olly oxen free" I'd be grateful.

Those unavailable messages were from this discussion
group (this server runs from Sheffield Hallam Univ).
I deleted a batch of messages a month or so ago -
the ones you were looking for are probably still
indexed in a search engine somewhere.

Anyway - I can't help much with your query, apart
from saying that the phrase my friends and I used
for this was 'erky, one, two, three'. The last time
I played hide and seek was some years ago, in
the English Black Country (an industrial region
near the celestial city of Birmingham).

Apparently, olly, olly... is widely known in the
US, but I've never met anyone in England that
has heard it used.


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