hide and seek - iphone 640 x 960

Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player (designated as being "it") counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching the number, the player who is "it" tries to find the other players. The game is an example of an oral tradition, as it is commonly passed down by children to younger children.

After the player designated as "it" finds another player, the found player must run to base, before s/he is tagged by "it." In some versions, after the first player is caught, it calls out "Ollie Ollie oxen free" (or "all outs, all in free" or many other variations) to signal the other hiders to return to base for the next round. In yet another version, when players are caught, they help the "it" seek out others. The phrase "Ollie Ollie oxen free" may derive from the German "Alles, Alles auch so ein frei!" ("Everyone, everyone is also as free as this person I just tagged out!") Since there have been a large influx of German peoples to the United States since the 1800s bringing culture and loan words. This seems a likely explanation for the origin of this phrase and aspect of the game in the United States.

Different versions of the game are played around the world, under a variety of names. One derivative game is called "sardines", in which only one person hides and the others must find them, hiding with them when they do so. The hiding places become progressively more cramped, like sardines in a tin. The last person to find the hiding group is the loser. A. M. Burrage calls this version of the game 'Smee' in his 1931 ghost story of the same name.


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