"Olly Olly Oxen Free" is said in hiding games like "Hide and Seek" or "Capture the Flag" when you want everyone to come out and show themselves.

Notes

Some say it's a corruption of the variation, "All that are out come in free!"

Comments

We asked on the Mama Lisa's World Facebook Group if anyone says "Olly Olly Oxen Free" as part of a game. Here are some of the responses we received:

"Not now as I'm 75 but it used to be part of our games when we were kids. I think we used it in hide n seek and it meant every one could return with no penalty. I think it signaled the start of a new game. The 'seeker' would cover their eyes, count to 100 while all the hiders hid and then the game was underway. It has quite a history and, of course, ye old Wiki has the low down...lol" -Andrew Galloway

"We used to play red rover and chant it." -Cindy Young Weaver

"I've heard it was used instead of 'ready or not, here I come' after the seeker finishes counting in a game of hide and seek." -Alisa Marko Iannucci

"In the 1950's and 60's in my hometown, the rhyme went:

All ye, all ye come free.
If you don't come in, you'll be I-T!
"

-Tom Satterly

Please email me to let us know when (and how) you say "Olly Olly Oxen Free". Thanks! -Mama Lisa

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who shared their version of this rhyme with us!

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