Did you know that this is not correct? Or rather that the saying we all grew up with is complete nonsense which most likely evolved to its current iterations because children are notorious for altering words and phrases they don't fully comprehend with words and phrases they do? Well, I suppose for kids, who cares right? Anyway, I was surprised to learn this as a teenager because it had always been said this way in every game of hide and go seek I'd ever been in. The other one I remember hearing a couple of times was, "Calling olly oxen free," which didn't make much sense either.
I learned this from my mom who told me one day: "The phrase is actually 'All the other Outs in free'."
Huh.. how about that? that makes sense after all, I mean, everyone else who is still out can now come in for free without getting tagged or anything so we can start a new round. That's what ollie ollie oxen free meant, but the phrase made no sense. We never played with anyone named Ollie, and oxen had never been an integral part of my day to day activities so "all the other outs in free" was welcome knowledge to me.
There are many other iterations of the current phrase like, "Ally ally ocean free" for one, and they don't make sense for the most part. There are several theories as to the origin of the saying and they all say something else, but I will hold that "ollie ollie oxen free" is complete nonsense having evolved from children hearing whatever the original saying was and not understanding the words.
If you don't believe me, I'll now send you on a journey so you too can know the history and variations for yourself.
Well, there you go. Now you can be the smart one at the party. Good luck.
If you have ever realized something in an "Aha!" moment, or been embarrassed at a gathering when someone told you how something REALLY was, let us know in the comments so we can all help each other come to these realizations.