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olly olly home free

English translation: response to the game of "hide and seek".

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:olly olly home free / olly olly oxen free
English translation:response to the game of "hide and seek".
Entered by: Will Matter
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15:36 Nov 6, 2008
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Other / Idioms
English term or phrase: olly olly home free
Greetings,

As a Brit I've always found this idiom rather puzzling.

First of all, how is it used exactly in children’s game? And what exactly does it mean in the following sentence, please?

Try committing a murder at Gitmo, and telling the judge you're olly olly home free because it isn't American soil and American laws don't apply.
http://www.gunandgame.com/forums/powder-keg/30325-us-says-ta...

Is it sometimes abbreviated to “home free”, by any chance? Just now I'm listening to Wayne Watson, a Christian singer/songwriter who sings:
Home free - eventually
At the ultimate healing
We will be home free
Home free.

Incidentally, does anyone have any idea where this mysterious “olly olly” comes from?

All the best,

Simon
SeiTT
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:36
response to the game of "hide and seek".
Explanation:
OK, I'm not sure how it is in the UK but here's what I know about this from the States. When children here play the game "hide and seek" there are times when the child who has chosen the role of the "looker" or the "finder" cannot, for one reason or another, find all of the children who have decided to "hide". There is also usually a time limit involved. Maybe the children who hid picked a really excellent spot or the child who is looking has simply decided to give up or maybe it's just time for everyone to go home for supper. In any case, when and if the children decided to finish the game if there are any children who have not yet been found the child who is the "finder" will call out "Olly, olly, oxen free" (at least that's what it sounded like to me as a child) and this serves as a signal to the children who have not been found that it is time for them to emerge from their hiding places and, presumably, move on to other enjoyable childhood activities. I said this many, many times as a child and never knew its exact linguistic origin, I simply learned it from the other children that I played with. As I'm sure you can see, "Olly, olly oxen free" sounds very much like "Alle, alle auch sind frei" so I'm sure that's the original expression. Within the context of your current question I think that they are saying that if the defendant commits a murder at Gitmo he's not going to automatically get off by being able to claim that Gitmo is not American soil (and, therefore, American laws don't apply) but now we're verging off into an entirely different area. Take it from me, "Olly, olly, oxen free" (or any variant thereof) is, at least originally (and more innocently), a child's response to other children within the context of a game we've all played. I hope that this helps.
Selected response from:

Will Matter
United States
Local time: 08:36
Grading comment
many thanks excellent
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +4response to the game of "hide and seek".Will Matter
4all ye, all ye, in come free
Claire Chapman
4free of guilt/punishment
Alice Bootman
Summary of reference entries provided
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/4/messages/1370.html
Direct Farsi

  

Answers


35 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
free of guilt/punishment


Explanation:
I am not sure where the "olly olly" comes from, but in both instances you gave, this is the meaning.
In childrens' games, it means something more akin to "I didn't get caught!" (as I'm sure you know)
Hope this helps.

Alice Bootman
Bolivia
Local time: 11:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
olly olly oxen free
response to the game of "hide and seek".


Explanation:
OK, I'm not sure how it is in the UK but here's what I know about this from the States. When children here play the game "hide and seek" there are times when the child who has chosen the role of the "looker" or the "finder" cannot, for one reason or another, find all of the children who have decided to "hide". There is also usually a time limit involved. Maybe the children who hid picked a really excellent spot or the child who is looking has simply decided to give up or maybe it's just time for everyone to go home for supper. In any case, when and if the children decided to finish the game if there are any children who have not yet been found the child who is the "finder" will call out "Olly, olly, oxen free" (at least that's what it sounded like to me as a child) and this serves as a signal to the children who have not been found that it is time for them to emerge from their hiding places and, presumably, move on to other enjoyable childhood activities. I said this many, many times as a child and never knew its exact linguistic origin, I simply learned it from the other children that I played with. As I'm sure you can see, "Olly, olly oxen free" sounds very much like "Alle, alle auch sind frei" so I'm sure that's the original expression. Within the context of your current question I think that they are saying that if the defendant commits a murder at Gitmo he's not going to automatically get off by being able to claim that Gitmo is not American soil (and, therefore, American laws don't apply) but now we're verging off into an entirely different area. Take it from me, "Olly, olly, oxen free" (or any variant thereof) is, at least originally (and more innocently), a child's response to other children within the context of a game we've all played. I hope that this helps.

Will Matter
United States
Local time: 08:36
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 28
Grading comment
many thanks excellent

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Cristina Chaplin: yea thx. Happy & Sad... bad translation customer experience recently... wanted to link on Linkedin...there was no acceptance from u there yet
9 mins
  -> Hi. Long time, no hear, no see, how's life?. Thanks for the 'agree'.

agree  NancyLynn: I'd forgotten that, thanks Will!
16 mins
  -> and thank you, in turn. Yup, we all played it.

agree  sueaberwoman: Never heard of the oxen free version -- live and learn!
4 hrs
  -> That's what it sounded like to me, anyhow, at that age. Now we have a good idea of where it comes from. Thank you for the 'agree'.

agree  Demi Ebrite: Perfect response, Will! ~ Demi
12 hrs
  -> Thanks, Big D. ;0)
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1 day1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
all ye, all ye, in come free


Explanation:
I believe that it is based on the old English phrase "all ye" meaning all of you or everybody. Olly would be the phonetic way of writing of all ye. It is said at the end of a game of hide-and-seek. All those who haven't been found and tagged get to come in without penalty.

In your sentence, it means that the person hopes to get out of the penalty for committing murder by claiming a point of law. But in Gitmo, that particular point of law will not make someone safe from prosecution for murder.

all ye all ye in come free....
remember that as a child? We used it in relivio, a hiding game of out foxing the opposite team.
http://forums.opendemocracy.net/node/29847

All ye, all ye, in come free!
About 6 o'clock nearly most every night in the few good weather months we enjoyed in Orono, Maine, the neighborhood children would gather next door at Dottie Boothby's house to play our nightly game of "Hide and Go Seek". Back in the mid-fifties, we all had had our suppers, and we generally played until it got dark, or, until it was bedtime...
I'm sure you all know how the game is played – I have seen children play this game everywhere I have been – Egypt, Nicaragua, Maine, Greater Boston – as far as I know it is a universal game for all children. One person is "it" and he or she closes their eyes and starts counting. All the others go and hide while the counting goes on...
There was one last rule that took effect when the person who was "it" had had enough. And the rule was when the person who was "it" gave up, ***they would yell "All ye, all ye, in come free!" And everyone who was hiding could come in and would not be regarded as being "caught" or "found".***
http://www.saintlukesmethodist.org/sermons/archives/all_ye_a...

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Note added at 1 day1 hr (2008-11-07 17:19:15 GMT)
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In my childhood, the phrase [Ollie ollie oxen free] was heard and said as "All ye, all ye, in come, free!" This was in a mid-sized, New England city with a large population of Irish origin, which is surely why the "ye" made sense. "In come, free" was, of course, the acknowledgment of defeat on the part of "It."
http://www.takeourword.com/Issue089.html

Anyhow, my point is that "oxen free" survived, for all children know what an oxen is (in farming communities), but not what "All ye" is... as this form of English has expired. Since children taught children this game, not adults, I can see the phrase slowly becoming warped.. after all, there is a complete turn over of children every 5-10 years in this game. Ollie = All ye.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Hide_and_seek

Ollie Ollie In Come Free - has nothing to do with politics, income, Oliver North, etc., though you can read politics into anything I suppose. It was shouted at the end of a kids' hide and seek game, and probably started around the turn of the 20th Century, because of its mix of German/English, etc. Lots and lots of theories from lots and lots of sites. Most from Jesse at Random House: 1. The phrase is used in a variety of children's chasing games, especially hide-and-(go-)seek. The rough form of this game is that a player (called "it") gives other players a chance to hide, and then tries to find them. When "it" finds the first hider, he calls out some phrase indicating that the other players are "safe" to return "home," at which point the person "it" found will succeed him as "it." The original form of the phrase was something like all in free or all's out come in free, both standing for something like all who are out can come in free. These phrases got modified to all-ee all-ee (all) in free or all-ee all-ee out(s) in free; the -ee is added, and the all is repeated, for audibility and rhythm. From here the number of variants takes off, and we start seeing folk etymologies in various forms. The most common of these has oxen replacing out(s) in, giving all-ee all-ee oxen free; with the all-ee reinterpreted as the name Ollie, we arrive at your phrase, which, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English, is especially common in California. Norwegian settlement areas have Ole Ole Olsen's free. For the out(s) in phrase, we also see ocean, oxford, ax in, awk in, and even oops all in. 2. One guess is that the original was something like "all in free" for "all who are out can come in free", to indicate that the person who is "it" in the game of hide-and-seek has caught somebody to become the new "it", and so everybody else can come out of hiding without the risk of being caught. Oral transmission has garbled this in fascinating ways, with all in, for example, being translated by a series of mishearings to the name Ollie (short for Oliver, once more common than it is now). And oxen may have come from an intermediate form out's in free - other recorded versions are awk in, Oxford, and ocean. Various subscribers remember versions that suggest the first part of the catch was once something like "all of you". Charles Wilson wrote: "When I was growing up in the American South we actually said, 'All ye all ye outs in free' when playing hide-and-seek (although we called it 'hide-and-go-seek)". 3. Its root seems to be an English-Norman French-Dutch/German concoction: "Alles, Alles, in kommen frei"or "Oyez, oyez, in kommen frei!" "Allez, allez" was a Norman addition to the English language, pronounced "ollie, ollie" and sometimes written "oyez, oyez" and meaning "everyone." "In kommen frei" was a phrase popular in Dutch/German New York and Pennsylvania, where many Zonians came from, meaning "come in free."
http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1736&

Claire Chapman
Local time: 11:36
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
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Reference comments


6 mins peer agreement (net): +4
Reference: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/4/messages/1370.html

Reference information:
Maybe this link helps

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Note added at 6 mins (2008-11-06 15:43:26 GMT)
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and this one http://www.odps.org/glossword/index.php?a=term&d=2&t=659


    Reference: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/4/messages/1370.htm...
Direct Farsi
Canada
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in Farsi (Persian)Farsi (Persian), Native in Persian (Farsi)Persian (Farsi)

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  Ken Cox: If the phrase originated as a phonetic adoption from German, the German phrase was more likely 'Alle, Alle auch sind frei' -- see e.g. http://www.singleoftheday.com/2007/07/14/alle-alle-auch-sind...
10 mins
  -> Thanks Ken
agree  Béatrice Sylvie Lajoie: for another explanation, agreeing with Ken's, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olly_olly_oxen_free
53 mins
  -> Thank you!
agree  Will Matter: I also agree for the reasons stated in my answer above. Given that a large number of the settlers who originally populated the East Coast of the US (where I am) were German this expression is completely plausible and believable.
1 hr
  -> Thanks Will
agree  sueaberwoman: And http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19970422. I knew it as "olly, olly in free"
3 hrs
  -> Thank you!
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Nov 9, 2008 - Changes made by Will Matter:
Created KOG entryKudoZ term » KOG term


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