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Folklore: Tag (the game)

07 Aug 07 - 04:07 AM (#2120668)
Subject: BS: Tag
From: Viracocha

We've got so many threads about playground songs, so I was wondering about playground GAMES. Everyone I came across over Britain as a child (admittedly, not many people) knew how to play tig-and-tag. It's the most basic kids' game - one person is "It", and tries to catch the others. There's usually a safe place for them to go - a "dell". In my school, we used to have three large-doorstep-things around one area, so those were all "dells"- one was a "countdown" dell (from 10, and at 0, "It" could jump onto the dell), one was "pull off" (where you could grab onto an arm sticking out and yank the people off), and one was "normal".

When I met some friends in Manchester, when I was still little, they called it "tig", and "dell" was "den". And Americans call it "tag" - at least, the ones on tv do! ^_^ So I was wondering what differences everyone else had when they were little.

Feel free to post about other playground games, too...


07 Aug 07 - 04:12 AM (#2120670)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag

Ballies or bally-os meant you were out of the game and it wasn't fair to tig you.

07 Aug 07 - 04:15 AM (#2120674)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Viracocha

...I never had them. How did that work?

07 Aug 07 - 05:46 AM (#2120707)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Mr Happy

Locally round here, its called 'Tick!'

07 Aug 07 - 05:53 AM (#2120709)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Mr Happy

..........& also, thinking on, there were various ways us kids had of choosing who'd be the first to be 'on'.

Several rhymes were used for 'dipping' ['dip' = to choose or pick] & some were in the form of an elimination sequence.

such as:

'Dip, dip, dip,
My blue ship,
Sails on the water,
Like a cup and saucer,
Dip, dip, dip,
You're not it!'


07 Aug 07 - 11:02 AM (#2120828)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Becca72

Growing up in Southern Maine in the late 70s the game was "tag" and the safe zone was "home base". "it" was never allowed to come onto home base but you were only allowed to stay there for a limited time. when stepping out of the game momentarily (bathroom break, checking in with mom, etc) we called "time out" and then upon returning called "time in".

07 Aug 07 - 11:59 AM (#2120850)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Dave the Gnome

Swinton, Manchester, UK. 1950s/60s. Tiggy. Barleys was the word used to indicate you were having 'time out'. Variation - Tiggy off the ground where you could not touch the ground or you were 'it' as well as if you got tigged.

Ip dip dip
My blue ship
Sailing on the water
Like a cup and saucer
My Mother says that you are ... (Used to depend if you wanted them in or out;-) )

Ip dip do
Cat's got flu
I've got the chicken pox
so out goes you

Did anyone else play 'kick can'. Place a can on the ground in the middle of the street. Someone would kick it as far as possible and whoever was 'on' had to run to get it then walk backwards to it's startng place while the others went and hid. To get someone out they had to find them and make it back to the can first. If the other person made it to the can first they could kick it again and the whole procedure started over. Far more violent than hide and seek:-)



07 Aug 07 - 12:03 PM (#2120854)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Liz the Squeak

I must have come from a much rougher, down to earth area, because our counting out rhyme was 'Ip dip, bird shit, I'm out, you're IT!'

We had variations of tag, like 'off ground touch' where you couldn't be tagged if your feet were off the ground, up a tree or standing on a wall or bench, and kiss chase, where the object was to not get kissed by the snotty nosed kid in the third year.


07 Aug 07 - 12:28 PM (#2120875)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Splott Man

In our area of Surrey we called it "He".

A variation was King He, or Kingy (I was never sure which), where "it" would throw a sorbo or tennis ball to hit someone, they would then join "it". The "its" would grow in number as the game progressed. The next "it" was either the last one or the first one caught.

The one with the tin we called Kick Can Bobby - "1, 2, 3, I see John (or whoever)" and "I am home, 1, 2, 3."

Time out was called Veins (Vains?) or Veinites.

07 Aug 07 - 01:08 PM (#2120904)
Subject: RE: BS: Tag
From: Les from Hull

It's interest that you've all picked up on the different 'time out' phrases used (although in the UK we never said 'time out' until so influenced by American TV or film. Peter and Iona Opie a couple of wonderful folkloreists produced a map of 'children's truce terms' in their book 'The lore and language of schoolchildren' (1977). Anyone interested in this thread in the UK should try to get a look at this book - it's a mine of information and nostalgia for those of us of 'a certain age'.

The truce term in Hull was 'kings', although when I got a scholarship to a posh school this was replaced by 'pax'. It seems you come from the 'fainites/fains/vainites/vains' area down south, Splotty. This is one of the oldest of such terms, being mediaeval English and originally Old French se feindre - make excuses, hang back, back out (esp of battle).

07 Aug 07 - 01:39 PM (#2120928)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Pinetop Slim

Our neighborhood featured a lot of variations on the theme -- bicycle tag, shadow tag and freeze tag.
In regular tag and a few other games "home base" was known as "gool." I took it for what it was then, but it seems the word may have been a mispronunciation of gaol.

07 Aug 07 - 02:21 PM (#2120960)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Les from Hull

I can remember 'off ground tig' when you were safe if you were off the ground. And 'chain tig' when those who were tigged joined hands with others in a long chain until everyone was caught.

The other games we had were 'reallio' - a team capture games; 'block' - a form of hide and seek; and eggitybudge - a form of tig using a tennis or similar sized ball.

Oh, and by the way, you're 'it'!

07 Aug 07 - 04:23 PM (#2121071)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Tootler

An alternative to dipping we sometimes used was for everyone to cry "not it". The last one to say it was it, or in some places where I lived, "on". (I had a nomadic childhood as my Father was in the RAF)

The "not it" method of deciding who was "it" not surprisingly, often led to disputes or had to be repeated several times as someone was considered to have taken an unfair advantage or cheated - rather like jumping the starting pistol in a race.

I remember playing kick can.

A variant of hide and seek we played was, when you were found by "it" you raced to the base (often a tree) and called "one two three in" or if "it" got there first, "one two three xxxxxx" where xxxxxx was the person's name. If you got to base before "it" you weren't "on" next time.

07 Aug 07 - 05:26 PM (#2121124)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Les from Hull

An accurate description of 'block' as played in 'ull, but we had to say 'block one two three'. But I've no idea why we said 'block'.

07 Aug 07 - 05:34 PM (#2121132)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: philgarringer

When I was a young'un in Rhose Island, all of our variations of "tag" had a safe zone known as "goo" or "gool". I think this is some kind of old pronunciation of the word.

We also played "Red Rover", and shot each other with slingshots and bb guns. Come to think of it, that wasn't really all that fun at all...

07 Aug 07 - 05:42 PM (#2121140)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: the button

Yeah, the whole "Block one two three in" thing stretched as far as Beverley, as well.

Off-ground tig, too.

Rhymes for selecting who was "it" included: -

Ibble obble
Black bobble
Ibble obble -- OUT!

Until there was only one person left, who became "it."

This would have been mid-to-late 70s.

07 Aug 07 - 06:43 PM (#2121195)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Rowan

Dave Polshaw wrote "Swinton, Manchester, UK. 1950s/60s. Tiggy. Barleys was the word used to indicate you were having 'time out'. Variation - Tiggy off the ground where you could not touch the ground or you were 'it' as well as if you got tigged. "

Much the same in Melbourne of the 40s & early 50s. Tiggy was the name of the game and "to tig" was the verb.

Cheers, Rowan

07 Aug 07 - 09:17 PM (#2121291)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Azizi

These recollections are from my childhood & "teenhood" in "Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s and mid 1960s} and from my observation of children in Pittsburgh, PA {from the late 1960s to date}:

My memories/observations of "It Tag" {the name that I recall from my childhood & the name that appears to be used most often among African American children in Pittsburgh} is confused with memories & observations of the game of "Hide & Go Seek".

You have to have a person who is "It" for both "It Tag" and "Hide & Go Seek".

Apart from self-selection, adult selection, or the "coronation" of a child with a strong personality as "It" by other children, children choose "It" by a process of elimination. Kids huddle in a bunch in front of the "reciter" {this is my term; I don't recall that any referent was used for this person}. Each of the kids either stuck their right foot out in front of the reciter OR each of the kids would stretch out their right arm so that their right fist would be within reach of the reciter. The kids are silent while the reciter chants most of the choosing "It" rhyme. The reciter touches the outstretched foot of each child {or their outstretched fist} while he or she recites a word or, in some cases, a syllable of the rhyme. One common rhyme {from my childhood and one that I've still heard nowadays} is:

My mother and your mother
were hanging out some clothes.
My mother punched your mother
right in the nose.
What color was the blood?
[At this point the person whose foot or fist was touched chooses a color. "Red" was the usual color that was chosen. The reciter then continues with the rhyme]
R-E-D spellls Red
And you are OUT

[The rhyme is then repeated again and again until there is only one person remaining. That person is "It". Of course, that rhyme can be manipulated to increase the chances that someone the reciter is friends with will be chosen as "It". One way of manipulating the rhyme was nstead of that last line given above to say:

"And you are not the one to be "It"

When "It" is selected [by the group, or self-selected, or selected by a teacher or summer camp group leader], he {or she} closes his eyes, puts his right hand over his eyes and then starts this counting while the rest of the group {including the reciter} scurries around looking for good hiding places.

"It" counts "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 [Usually this is chanted fast]. "It" will then say "Are you ready?" [Usually the first time "It" says this a couple of kids who haven't found good hiding places will respond "NO!". "It" will then repeat his count, and then say again "Are you ready?" Someone may still not have found just the right hiding place, and will therefore shout "NO!". "It" will count again to give that person more time. After the second or third time this happens, "It" will say "READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!" "It" will then start looking for people. When he {or she} finds a kid, that person tries to run to Home base before being tagged {touched} by "It" . If the person reaches "home base" he or she is "Home Free".

My memory of home base is like what Becca72 wrote in her 07 Aug 07 - 11:02 AM post.

Presumably, the last person who is tagged becomes the next "It" . Or maybe they become the reciter.

07 Aug 07 - 09:28 PM (#2121295)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Azizi

It seems from some books on children's rhymes {I can't remember whether this includes the Opies' books which I consider to be great resources} that kids didn't want to be choosen as "It". But my recollections and observations dispute this premise.

I definitely think that some kids like to be "It". Sometimes a child who is the group leader chooses him or herself as "It". Sometimes a child with a strong personality or a child who is known to be a good runner is "chosen" by other kids to be "It".

Sometimes kids don't want to go through the process of choosing "It" using an elimation rhyme because it takes too long. Imo, one reason nowadays that children may not want to go through the whole process of choosing "It" by the rhyming/elimination method is they want things to happen fast and-with a large group-this process could take a long time. Another reason why 21st century children may not use rhymes to choose "It" as often as I recall mid and late 20th century children doing, is that nowadays time for group outdoor play may be limited. For instance, children who want to play "Tag" or "It Tag" or other chasing games during "recess" {an alloted time for free play after lunch} have to get on with it because they don't have much time before the school bell will ring and they've got to go back to the grind of classes. Needless to say, computer games, video games, tv, adult organized sports,and other adult directed children's activities all take up the time that children could use for free play.

07 Aug 07 - 09:37 PM (#2121299)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Bee

Besides 'It' tag, Shadow tag and Freeze Tag, in Cape Breton (50s, 60s) we played a tag game called Ghost in the Cellar. One person is chosen the Mother, one the Ghost, everyone else is the Children. The following ritual goes like this:

Children: "Mother, Mother, we're hungry!"
Mother: "Show me your hands!" (Children show hands) "Your hands are dirty! Go wash them in the cellar and you can have your supper!"
(Children run off to area designated 'cellar', where Ghost is waiting.)
Ghost: "Booooooo!" (Children run back to Mother, shrieking.)
Children: "Mother, Mother, there's a Ghost in the cellar!"
Mother: "There's no such thing as ghost's, it's only your father's underwear! Go back and wash your hands!" (Children run back to cellar.)
Ghost: "Booooooo!"
Children: "What do you want?"
Ghost: "I want some water."
Children: "What do you want water for?"
Ghost: "To boil my kettle."
Children: "What do you want to boil your kettle for?"
Ghost: "To wet my stone."
Children: "What do you want to wet your stone for?"
Ghost: "To sharpen my knife!"
Children: "What do you want to sharpen your knife for?"
Ghost: "To kill you all!"
At this point, children run shrieking, ghost chases children until all are tagged. Last child tagged becomes the Ghost, and the Ghost becomes the Mother.

We were probably the last generation of children who knew wells and handpumps were often in cellars, that fathers wore 'Union Suits', and that water and stone sharpened steel edges.

07 Aug 07 - 09:54 PM (#2121304)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Azizi

The way that I played Hide & Go Seek and the way I've seen Black children play this game in the Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania area differs from the way it's documented being played by southern African American children in books like Bessie Jones & Bess Lomax-Hawes Step It Down and Linda Gossett's Talk That Talk.

The rhyme composition "All Hid" is an example of how rhymes were strung together to give the children playing this game time to hid. In this chant, the reciter combined Mother Goose rhymes and rhymes from African American secular slave songs such as "Juba this Juba that". Periodically in his {or her} recitation of standardized rhymes, the reciter would ask the other children if they were all hid, and the children would respond by saying that same phrase {though I wonder if early on the children said No, we're not all hid".

Here's that rhyme.


Last night
Night before
Twenty-five blackbirds
at my door.
I got up
Let 'em in
Hit 'em in the head
With a rolling pin.
All hid!

All hid!

All hid!

All hid!

5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, all hid.

All hid!

All hid!

All hid!

5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

65, 70, 75, 80,85, 90, 95, 100 all hid.

All hid

5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the
candlestick. Little boy blue, come blow your horn, sheep in the
meadow, cows in the corn.Tom, Tom the piper's son, stole a pig and away he run. Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife but couldn't keep her. Juba this and Juba that, Juba stole a yellow cat.
I spy in pocketful of rye, how many blackbirds in my pie?
All hid!

All hid

5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, all hid


Unfortunately, my copy of Step It Down and my copy of Talk That Talk are hiding from me. Therefore, I can't cite the page number or publishers. I seem to recall that the Linda Gossett's book quoted Bessie Jones' recollection of this chant from her African American Gullah heritage.

07 Aug 07 - 10:47 PM (#2121331)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Janie

We called it 'tag' (west central West Virginia, mid to late 50's.)

To chose "it" we would stand in a circle and everyone would hold a hand out, palm down. There were no rules for determining who was the reciter, to use Azizi's term. But that person would go around the circle, tapping each person's hand sequentially with a balled fist, one tap per word.

One potato, two potato, three potato, four
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.
Then, much faster,

Then there would be a mad, screaming scramble to run away from the circle and 'it' so as not to be immediately tagged. Once tagged. You were it.

We also played freeze tag, and I game called 'statue.' In statue, we took turns being the 'swinger'. Each swinger swung everyone else before passing the job off to some one else.

The 'statue' would stand at right angle to the swinger. The swinger took the statue's wrist in both hands, and swung the person in a circle, building up momentum. When the swinger was satisfied there was sufficient momentum, they would let go, sending the statue staggering or tumbling. Quickly, the swinger would yell 'freeze! and the statue would have to try to stop their motion immediately, and hold the pose. The point was to freeze into as silly and/or awkward a position as possible, preferably with a grotesque look on your face. There was no other point than to look silly and get a good laugh from the other participants.


07 Aug 07 - 11:14 PM (#2121348)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Kent Davis

We played freeze tag in Southern West Virginia and in the South Carolina Low Country in the 1960s. Now my daughters and their friends play the same game every Sunday and Wednesday after church, here in Southeastern Ohio. It's nice to know that not everything changes.

07 Aug 07 - 11:27 PM (#2121352)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Janie

The person who was 'it' in hide-and-seek would simply yell out, "Ready or not, here I come!" when they reached a count to 100. To end a game of hide-and-seek before everyone was found, the Seeker and any of us who had been caught would stand at home base and yell
"All-ee All-ee in Freeeeee!"

We also played a variant of hide-and-seek called "Sardines." One person would go hide while everyone else counted to 500, and then we would disperse to find the one person. If you found them, you had to try quickly to hide with them from all the other seekers. The challenge was to find a good hiding place that would remain a good hiding place as the number of hiders increased. The fun of it was the hiding place was never quite big enough and some some really odd contortions ensued as people tried to pack themselves in or make room for one more.


08 Aug 07 - 12:57 AM (#2121404)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Bert

The kids used to hold out both fists and the leader would count around, One potato, two potato, three potato, four
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more, bangibg each fist in turn with his, When they reached 'more' the kid had to put that fist behind his back and then the leader would go 'round again. The winner was the one left with a fist out.

Other games were,

What's the time Mr. Wolf
Fag cards
Bottle tops. Which was the same game as fag cards but played with cardboard milk bottle tops.
Jump rope, of course but mostly by girls
Two ball, again mostly by girls
Kingy in the Middle
Cops and robbers
Cowboys and Indians (Bang you're dead)

These games were seasonal, you wouldn't dream of playing gobs during fag card season.

Marbles and hop scotch were played occasionally if we were really bored

08 Aug 07 - 03:24 AM (#2121440)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Snuffy

We played tick, ticky-off-ground, chain tick, ball tick (or Baltic?), kick-can-123.

Someone was "on" not "it". And we said "barley", but I think my cousins said "skinch"

08 Aug 07 - 07:45 AM (#2121580)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Mr Happy

Inky pinky ponky
Daddy bought a donkey
Donkey died, Daddy cried
Inky pinky ponky
O-U-T spells OUT
And OUT you are!

08 Aug 07 - 12:37 PM (#2121771)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Mrrzy

how about yellow fever? this was version of Tag when I was a kid where, if you were tagged by It, you became It too, and kids who hadn't seen you get tagged wouldn't know you were It...

And the French call it Cat. You aren't It, you are the Cat. But then again, the French say "I have other cats to whip" for Other fish to fry...

09 Aug 07 - 08:38 AM (#2122411)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Les from Hull

Snuffy - the Opies would locate your cousins in Northumberland or Durham.

09 Aug 07 - 09:18 AM (#2122432)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Snuffy

Spot on, Les. Ryton on Tyne

13 Aug 07 - 07:22 AM (#2124638)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Viracocha

Wow. I didn't expect this much response! Or this many varieties...

There's a lot of these 'choosing it' rhymes on other pages - such as here . Actually, a lot of those were posted by me :S We had several...

As for the 'time out', we crossed our fingers and yelled "S.P!", my mum said "pax" as a child, and the teachers tried to make us make a T with our hands and say "Time Out" when we were in P.E. (gym). And it was ALWAYS called "tig-and-tag", but when we called out "tig", almost never saying "tag", but it was always "tag, you're it" if we did the full version. I wonder why that was?

I'm surprised "Stick-in-the-mud" wasn't mentioned, but maybe that was just a local thing...our gym teachers knew it, and my brownie/rainbow/guide leaders all knew it, and we often played it in the playground. Very much like "tig and tag" (or whatever everyone else called it), but when you "tigged" someone, they had to freeze with their feet apart and their arms spread wide (not freeze in the position they were caught). The teachers/leaders made us go under the legs of the frozen people to save them; we played it ourselves as going under the arm (far quicker, and far far better when there were people of different sizes [tall/large person squeezing under short/small person=embarressing], and genders, and with skirts). The trick was to "tig" all of the people before they could unstick the others. There were usually several "It"s. You had to say "Stick-in-the-mud" rather than "tig".

((Does anyone have any old books that might shed some light on which came first - tig or tick(y)? The two words must be related somehow.))


13 Aug 07 - 07:30 AM (#2124642)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Viracocha

And I was always told "S.P!" meant "Stop Please!", but I always though the people talling me that sounded a bit unsure...


14 Aug 07 - 07:31 AM (#2125107)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag

I'd guess that 'tag', 'tiggy', 'tick' etc. are derived from Latin tangere (tango present tense, tetigi imperfect, tactum participle), so from schoolday Latin along with 'pax'.

16 Aug 07 - 04:09 AM (#2126748)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Viracocha

Thanks for all the examples, btw...
Guest,PMB: I didn't get a chance to learn Latin in school, but an online translator says "tangere" can mean three different things:
-touch, strike
-border on, influence

And the first one sounds very likely. Though that doesn't really explain the French "Cat", but that one probably developed on its own, seperate from tig/tag/tick/ticky. Thanks ^_^
Azizi: We never played hide-and-seek at school - at least, not once we were about 7 or older (not a cultural thing, just a lack of hiding places and a large amount of kids in the way). But when we played it elsewhere, we only ever counted, then said ready-or-not-here-I-come - I doubt we'd have remembered all of "All hid!" I still find children learning long rhymes like that very impressive.

But then, I did read somewhere that young children used to be made to learn enormous poems (not to mention bible passages) in Britain, not so long ago. They were sometimes called upon to recite poetry to their elders, and they tried, or were forced, to memorise many different ones. And since that is no longer done in or out of schools (well, in those that follow a government curriculum - I suppose some schools might still force memorising of poetry), that part of our brains isn't developed at a young age and, consequently, we find it more difficult to memorise rhymes/poems (or, arguably, to memorise ANYTHING) in later life. Which is a shame, because oral traditions will get lost. I suppose that's what Mudcat is for. Anyway, I digress...
Bert: We played:


Polo (no, not the thing with horses)
Rangers 1-2-3 (a game we were very proud of having invented)
Fishy, Fishy, Swim my Ocean
Tig-on-the-Line (NO ONE knew the rules)
Skipping [with a rope or a french-skipping-rope, mostly by girls]
Hand-clapping [mostly by girls]
Kings and Queens arriving [I discussed this in detail on another thread]
Football [only in a certain area, for one year at a time]
Hopscotch [VERY rarely]
Mummies and Daddies [only the REALLY wee kids]

I collect marbles. I think it's such a shame that no kids up here know how to play it :(


16 Aug 07 - 05:42 PM (#2127418)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: DonD

First, thanks to all for the memories and especially for the consideration of specifying the geography. No thanks to those who think that saying 'here' is of any use at all. Or perhaps they think they're so famous that everyone knows where they're from.

In The Bronx (does everyone know where that is?) when I was a kid in the thirties (!) we played tag and hide & seek (not hide and go seek) and kick the can, among other street games. Car traffic on our residential streets was sparse, and we resented having to interrupt our play when a motorist appeared. Among the popular games was 'War' which involved placing a rubber ball (a spaldeen if we had one) in the center hole of a manhole cover in the middle of the street, drawing a large segmented chalk circle around it and writing the name of a country in each segment. The players stood with one foot in his segment, leaning away to make a fast getaway but stretching an arm toward the ball. Whoever was it first called "I declare war on ---(naming a country)". The player in the named segment lunged for the ball while everyone else ran in all directions, until the ball-holder yelled 'stop!' He/she then had to throw the ball and try to hit the most vulnerable player. If he hit someone that player would be the one to declare war the next time; if he missed, or if his target caught the ball, the thrower would get to declare war. The choice of country names was always influenced by the news of the day and the politics we heard our parents discussing the night before.
Don't get me stared on 'ring-a-levio', because I can't remember the rules.

16 Aug 07 - 07:26 PM (#2127478)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Geoff the Duck

Bradford, West Yorks (West Yorkshire for them as didn't live there), England, Europe, The World, The Universe etc. etc.
Sticking specifically to "Tig" games local to me - 1960's.

Tig was called Tig, not tag.
There was no break during a game of tig. It was generally all in the open, no hiding, no safe area, no "time out" words. If you stood still, you would get tigged and would be "It".

Choosing rhymes - a couple used, but probably Dip Dip Dip.
This was an elimination rhyme :-
Dip, dip dip.
My blue ship.
Sails on the water.
Like a cup and saucer.

The person pointed at when the rhyme hit "IT" stood out, safe, and the rhyme started at the next person in the circle with Dip again. Finally only one was left and they were "It".

In Hide and seek you hid until found.

Some people have mentioned a can kicking game.
Our local one was "Tin Can Squat".
It was a cross between Tig and Hide and seek.
A tin can was put in the middle of the road. About ten or twenty twigs were broken off a bush or tree. They were placed in the tin can.
The person who would be "It" was chosen.
Somebody else then kicked the can, sending the twigs flying.
"It" then had to gather up the twigs and put them back in the can before they could go searching for the rest of the players.
If they found a player they both raced back to the can. If "It" got there first, the player had to stay there, caught. If the player beat "It" they kicked the can and all caught players were free to run off and hide again until twigs were back in the can.

If "It" was fast, all players ended caught.
Sometimes a brave player would leave their hiding place and run to kick the can, hoping that "It" didn't spot them and get back to base before they did.

A singer whose name I can't at the moment recall, (Graham something? - looking at gig list of the Topic Folk Club probably Graham Shaw) wrote a song with chorus :-

Tin Can Squat, Tin Can Squat.
That's the game we used to play,
(We'd) Kick the can and run away
Why don't they do the same today,
Tin Can Squat.


16 Aug 07 - 07:34 PM (#2127480)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Geoff the Duck

With Tig there would be local rules about whether you could tig back the person who had just tigged you. Sometimes they were safe until another person became "It" and could have a short rest. On other occasions two players would just keep tigging each other, giving the rest of us a break.

"Off the ground tig" was usually played in school, usually in the gym during a games lesson. You were allowed on wall bars, benches, forms, vaulting horses ropes and the likes, on blue mats but were not allowed to touch the wooden floor. Equipment was arranged so that there were various escape routes.


16 Aug 07 - 07:41 PM (#2127484)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Geoff the Duck

I just remembered "Tram Lines" which we played at primary school on the playground.
It was marked out with lines for Football (5-a side soccer), Rounders and others, possibly tennis.
The result was a whole load of lines in different colours.
You were allowed to run along the lines, but not allowed to leave the lines. You could change to a different line if it intersected the one you were on.
As usual we had a person who was "It" and they had to chase along the same line to catch you up. They couldn't tig you from a parallel line, even if they could reach you to touch. They had to be on the same line you were on.


16 Aug 07 - 08:30 PM (#2127518)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: GUEST,Scabby Douglas

In Glasgow it was "Tig", and the nominated catcher was "Het".

The truce word was "keys" - always said with fists closed, and thumbs pointing upwards. The safe area was the "den", and reaching the den, you were only safe if you had said "In den, one-two-three!"

16 Aug 07 - 08:48 PM (#2127531)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: open mike

ok, so how did the word "tag" come to mean (musical thread....)
a repeat of the last line of a song?

and then there is "bridge" .... which is somrt of line a chorus,
but not....

20 Aug 07 - 04:45 AM (#2129520)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Viracocha

In reply to DonD - I'm in North-East Scotland, sorry if I didn't say.
And Geoff the Duck - our PE hall had lines like that. Our plyaground only had Netball lines, that's where our Tig-on-the-Line came from. But no one knew the rules, or even if 'It' was allowed to leave the lines, or if anyone could 'hop' onto other lines (such as the circle in the middle).


20 Aug 07 - 08:05 AM (#2129574)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Mr Happy

Both at primary school & in the cubs, there were a variety of games set up by teacher/akela/cubmaster.

Most were rough & tumble sorts & some I didn't like at all.

One of these was 'British Bulldog' & seemed to consist of random running about in a crowd of small boys, then grabbing each others goolies [AAAAAAArrrrgggggggh!!] & shouting 'British Bulldog!' for no apparent reason.

Another was one where the leader would shout 'Port' or 'Starboard' & the teams had to run to the right or left.

Those who got confused & ran wrong way got eliminated & winners were the team with most left at time period.

A game I did enjoy, played both in school & away was 'Pirates', very similar to 'off ground tag/tick' described above, the school gym version being particularly good with having ropes to swing from place to place.

20 Aug 07 - 11:42 AM (#2129694)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Rusty Dobro

Don't worry, Viracocha, many British children are still required to learn long passages off by heart - they're called the Koran.

20 Aug 07 - 08:33 PM (#2130047)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag
From: Bonecruncher

One, Two, Three.
Mother caught a flea.
She put it in the teapot
And made a cup of tea.

That was another "counting-out" rhyme, used in the Southampton area of UK.

Two of the games described by Mr. Happy actually did have rules, although perhaps in his area or school the had not been passed "down the line", so to speak.

The object of British Bulldog was for one or two persons to be in the centre of the play area, be it a large room, hall or playground, and the other competitors lined up against the wall on one side of the area. At a signal all the competitors would rush to try to get to the other side of the area while those in the middle tried to catch one of them. It was then required for the two "catchers" to lift the caught person off the ground, holding him airborne while shouling "British Bulldog". The caught person would then join the catchers in the middle. The winner was the person who was last left uncaught.

"Port and Starboard" also had additional commands, such as "Boom Overhead" when one would have to lie flat to avoid being struck by the (imaginary) boom of a sailing ship. "Bow" and "Stern" also involved rushing to the requisite part of the "ship". "Man the lifeboats" involved the competitors forming themselves into fours (or sixes if a large group) and sitting line astern. As was said above, it was devil take the hindmost as regards to who was "out".

"Pirates" has already been described but another playground game, usually played by girls, (yes, we were very sexist in those days but playgrounds were divided into "girls" and "boys") was a ball game known as "Queenie" which involved an individual throwing a tennis ball backwards over their head towards a line of other competitors stood behind them. The ball, having been caught by one of the line was then secreted behind a back, sometimes with surreptitious passing along the line. At the call of "Queenie, Queenie, who's got the ball?" the thrower would then be required to turn around and guess who held the ball. If the guess was correct then the ball-holder would become the thrower, otherwise the thrower would throw again.

There was another game, whose name I cannot remember.
It involved two teams, one crouching against a wall to make a long back, often longer than the vaulting box in the gym, while the other team vaulted onto the long back. The object was to get the other team to break, when they would have to reform their long back. If the team macking the back could hold up the combined weight of all of the other team, they had won and the teams changed over.


20 Aug 07 - 10:13 PM (#2130099)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Kent Davis

How did you keep freeze-tag players from standing right by the safe area so that it was impossible to tag them? We* told them not to "guard the base". My children** say:
"One, two, three,
Get off my father's apple tree".
How did you keep the one who is "it" from standing right by a "frozen" player so that it is impossible to "un-freeze" them. We had no special terms that I recall, but my children tell the one who is "it" to stop "baby-sitting" or to stop "dog-guarding".

* Lived in Southern West Virginia '60 to '66, Low Country South Carolina '66 to '72
** Living in Appalachian Ohio


21 Aug 07 - 05:15 AM (#2130243)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mr Happy


I recall the girls "Queenie" game you mentioned, though in my neighbourhood, it was called "Queenio-Coco"

Down our way, the girls often invited me & other boys to play as well.

After the thrown ball had been hidden, the chant was:
'Queenio-Coco, who's got the ball ee-o?'

Boys were at a great disadvantage in hiding the ball because they wore shorts or trousers, whereas the girls in those days [1950's] wore dresses or skirts.

They'd slyly shove the ball up under their skirt & hold it between their upper thighs, so when the searcher sought it, they could turn all around without the ball being detected!

21 Aug 07 - 07:00 AM (#2130295)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie

Bee 07 Aug:
Besides 'It' tag, Shadow tag and Freeze Tag, in Cape Breton (50s, 60s) we played a tag game called Ghost in the Cellar.
We called it "Witch in the well", but the water, knife, chasing etc. was the same. The phrase & responses were very specific, & if you were the youngest, you made sure you were two steps away before the withch said "knife".

Bonecruncher 20 Aug
One, Two, Three, Me Mother caught a bee.
She put it in the teapot, To make a cup of tea.
The bee flew out, mammy gave a shout,
And in came Johhny, with his shirt hangin' OUT.

This could be used to select who wasn't "IT"

Queenie was never played at my (boys only) school, but I'd sometimes play it at home with my sisters. (They had to pronlise not to tell anyone though!)

21 Aug 07 - 07:04 AM (#2130298)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie

Queenie, Queenie, who has the ball?
Is she big, or is she small?
Is she fat, or is she thin?,
Or is she like a safe-eh-tee-pin*?

21 Aug 07 - 08:28 AM (#2130337)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Viracocha

Thanks everyone.

I never played Queenie - but few of us wore skirts past a certain age (and the school was mixed).

We didn't have freeze-tag, but if people stood too long on "dell", we counted down from ten. At zero, we could jump on dell and grab anyone still left (our "dell" tended to be a low step - or 3 low steps - not a wall, as the walls had those little jabby stones. Sometimes it was the wall, but there was a lot of wall, so that wasn't very fair).

And I remember "Port Starboard Bow Stern" very well from parties, gym AND Brownies. There were many commands such as:

Captain's coming (stand to attention)
Captain's gone (look relieved and stand relaxed)
Climb the rigging (mime climbing rigging - looks like a midair doggy paddle)
Swab the deck (mime scrubbing the floor)
Up periscope (lie on back and lift one leg)

But I don't remember "Boom Overhead" or "Man the lifeboats".


21 Aug 07 - 12:55 PM (#2130471)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: HouseCat

We played "Devil In The Ditch" - you had to have a good-sized ditch, which we did. The "devil" stood at the bottom of the ditch and the poor souls he was trying to steal ran back and forth across the ditch as fast as they could as the devil tried to tag them. First one tagged was the new devil. Our ditch had steep sides and we had lots of skinned knees but it was great fun.
We also played "Colored Eggs" which required a wolf, a hen, and an assortment of chicks. Each chick secretly chose a color. The wolf came and KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKED on the door. The hen answered with, "What do you want?" and the wolf replied, "I want to buy some colored eggs!"
"What color?" the hen would ask, and the wolf would start naming colors until he called one that a chick had chosen. Said chick would then take off running around the yard until it was either tagged by the wolf or made it safely back to the hen. The most fun was trying to think of colors so rare (from the Crayola box) that the wolf would never think of them. Last chick standing won, or if the wolf got them all, he won.
Both were played in the 60's and before, in rural Alabama.

21 Aug 07 - 08:22 PM (#2130754)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Bonecruncher

In UK trousers for girls were never worn in school until about the early 1970's.
By that time the girls referred to by Mr. Happy were probably allowing balls of a different type to be near their upper thighs!


21 Aug 07 - 10:20 PM (#2130799)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Lonesome EJ

In Louisville Kentucky circa 1964, we used to play Smear, and I have sometimes wondered whether other kids in other places played it, or if it was a perverse local phenomenon.
It took five or six people, always males, and a football. The game began with all standing in a circle around the ball until somebody got the nerve to pick it up and run with it, at which point everyone else would tackle, kick, beat, gouge, and strangle(smear) the ball carrier. Once the ball carrier was forced to relinquish the ball, we would stand around it again until someone else picked it up, and the brutality was repeated. It was more like a male puberty ritual than a real game, I suppose.

21 Aug 07 - 10:37 PM (#2130813)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Kent Davis

Lonesome EJ,

The game you call "smear" was played by my father (born 1937) in Kegley, WV. He called it "hahchemahlee" which is, I would guess, how a little Anglo boy in the '40s heard "hot tamale".
We played the same game in Orangeburg, SC, in the late '60s and early '70s. I called it "Smear the Quarterback", as did my friends if an adult was listening. If not, they usually called it "Smear the Queer". The "queer" was whoever had the ball.
We did not allow strangling. It was an all against one tackle and rough, but not that rough.

21 Aug 07 - 10:41 PM (#2130815)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Janie


I don't recall it ever being much of an issue. There were a bunch of kids in my neighborhood, and simple peer pressure may have taken care of that problem.

21 Aug 07 - 10:46 PM (#2130816)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Lonesome EJ

I exaggerated a tad, Kent. No strangling, but no real rules about what techniques could be used to take down the ball carrier, either. Tackling, true, but the piling on was the worst. I remember plenty of bloody knees, black eyes, and torn shirts. We usually played out of sight of any adults, who tended to frown on this activity. I guess it was a sort of an early "fight club".

21 Aug 07 - 10:54 PM (#2130820)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Janie

Now that I think about, we did not have a
'home base' in tag or in freeze tag.

21 Aug 07 - 10:59 PM (#2130823)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Kent Davis

I apologize in advance for being dense, but what is the issue and what is the problem to which you are referring? If it is the term "queer", the only issue was whether or not we said taboo words. That particular word was taboo. I doubt very much if my friends even knew what the word meant to adults.

21 Aug 07 - 11:27 PM (#2130835)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Janie

Hi Kent,

I was responding to your post of 8/20 at 10:13 pm about freeze tag. You happened to post a response tonight to LEJ while I was typing. Your most recent post wasn't up there when I started typing, or I would have been more specific about what I responding to. (about which that to which I was responding:^)

Sorry for the confusion.


22 Aug 07 - 09:55 AM (#2131062)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Viracocha

This sort of thing ("Smear") makes me even more certain that my generation (I was in Primary School in the early/mid 90s) were a bunch of wimps! Or maybe the adults were just stricter. We'd never have played a game like that, we were a bunch of little crybabies.

We were even made to play some form of "safe" rugby in gym (it had a specific name that I can't recall - we weren't allowed to tackle or bodily attack others). I've still never been taught proper rugby rules...

I wonder if this is another example of adults smothering each new generation more and more...?


22 Aug 07 - 12:39 PM (#2131189)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald

In the Parkstone area of Poole, Dorset, in the late 1940s, we called it 'Daddy-dun' (or perhaps 'done.') The truce word, with fingers crossed, was 'failance.'

22 Aug 07 - 05:58 PM (#2131459)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Anne Lister

I had a nomadic childhood and had to adjust quickly to the various rules of the games played - and the "safe" word. In one area it was "fainite", in another "pax" and in yet another "cree". In all cases it was accompanied with crossed fingers. We moved from Bromley in South East London to Reading, then to Worcester and then to Cardiff (all the UK variety, for our US cousins!).

We played a version of British Bulldog, but it was far more sedate than the versions written down by others - in fact, these versions make it clear why it was banned in many playgrounds! Our version had the rhyme "Farmer, farmer, may I cross your golden meadow?". The Farmer would give permission for certain colours, so if you were wearing them you'd be fine, but if not you had to run across the space and avoid being caught. Anyone who was caught would join the Farmer and be ready to catch the next unfortunates.

We played Sticky Tag, and various Cat and Mouse games, as well as Pirates and the "Ship, Lifeboat, Deck" game mentioned by others ... which also had the command "sharks!" at which point you had to lie on your back with one leg in the air, or "Bombs", for which you had to lie on your stomach with your hands over your head. I still do this with children now ... great fun to have them rolling over and over on the floor ... maximum energy dispersal for minimum effort on my part!

At my secondary school (all girls) we had numerous ball games. The main one was called Donkey, and involved throwing a ball against the wall, letting it bounce and then doing various things - either ways to catch it (one handed, two handed etc) or jumping over it. I think there was a hierarchy of what actions to take but I can't remember now what the various actions were!

My favourite current game (which I was taught by some children in London) is called Witches, Fairies and Giants.   There are two teams, either end of a space. They have a time to confer (regulated by some kind of referee) and to decide if they will be Witches, Fairies or Giants. Witches have to move forward going "cackle, cackle, cackle", Fairies have to say "twinkle, twinkle" and Giants go "stomp, stomp".   The rule is that Witches catch Fairies, Giants catch Witches and Fairies catch Giants, so once it's clear what each team is doing it becomes a catch game, and prisoners become members of the capturing team.

22 Aug 07 - 06:09 PM (#2131468)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: s&r

We played a lot of 'snobs' (jacks, fivestones) in Nottingham Ca 1950. There was a progression of throwing picking and catching tricks from one to nine: after nine, a harder set followed called 'French ones, twos etc. If you succeeded in completing the Frenchies, you progressed to the 'Carltons' from one to nine.

I once knew someone who claimed to have completed the Carlton nines.


22 Aug 07 - 06:38 PM (#2131490)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Lonesome EJ

OK, here's another violent game I remember playing around the same age (13-16 yrs). I think it was based on the innocent little kids' game called "A Tisket, A Tasket". We played this in boy scouts, with the supervision and approval of the adults Scoutmaster, I might add.
In this game, everyone stood in a circle facing inward, with hands behind their backs. The scoutmaster selected someone from the ring, and placed a belt in his hands. This person, the Belter I suppose he'd be called, prowled slowly around the outside of the ring, until he would suddenly place the belt in your hands. He would then run around the circle counter-clockwise while you chased him, beating the hell out of him with the belt. You kept this up until he reached the space you had vacated, at which point you became the belter.
I tried to onlygive the belt to kids who had asthma or were very small, etc, however I can remember Steve Klinglesmith who was about 5 ft 10 and weighed 180 or so, stepping back to wrestle the belt from my grasp, and then me having to run like I had the Devil behind me around the circle.

23 Aug 07 - 06:46 AM (#2131830)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Viracocha

THAT was 'a Tisket a Tasket'? We always called it (allbeit a FAR milder version) "the keys game". Someone sat in the middle, curled up (or eyes closed), and they had keys beside them. Someone else had to creep up silently, quietly lift the keys and tiptoe all the way around the circle. Of course, as soon as the 'sleeper' realised the keys were gone, it was no longer tiptoing. If you caught them, you could remain the sleeper; if not, they must become the sleeper. Or was it the other way round...?   Needless to say, it required too much silence to play in the playground.

It's a bit like 'Duck Duck Goose', too.

Tabster, your information is very interesting, thanks - Fainite and Failance might have the same stem. Though I can't imagine where 'cree' comes from. And thanks to Guest,Terry McDonald, too. And I've never heard of anything like "Witches Fairies and Giants", but I have heard of jacks. Though we never played it, sadly.


23 Aug 07 - 08:12 AM (#2131860)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mr Happy

We played Jacks too & also marbles.

Loads've varieties've marbles games.

Hopscotch was another favourite, also skipping

23 Aug 07 - 08:51 AM (#2131879)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald

We called 'jacks' 'dibs' - five little cubes that you'd catch between the fingers with the back of your hand turned upwards. I was at the local grammar school in the early fifties and playing 'dibs' was one of the crazes that suddenly took off, lasted a few weeks (perhaps a couple of months) and then became old hat.

23 Aug 07 - 03:33 PM (#2132195)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Anne Lister

Yes, we played jacks, and marbles, and then there were the skipping games, the elastic games (elastic around the ankles of two people and an elaborate system of intertwining it and then jumping clear, although I never played this) and lots more chasing games, if only I could remember them. I was good at jacks, though.


04 Sep 09 - 08:28 AM (#2716061)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mr Happy

Following a query from Azizi, I got these extra bits for the 'Queenio coco game [my post 27th Aug 07 here:thread.cfm?threadid=123101&messages=37]


Queeny Old Co-Co, whofs got the ball- e-oh?
See I havenft got it; see I havenft got it,
It isnft in my pocket
So Queeny Old Co-Co whofs got the ball- e-oh?

Hand movements showing empty hands left and right alternately when saying, gSee I havenft got it.h

04 Sep 09 - 08:59 AM (#2716072)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Kosmo

We played tig, and then you had bagsie which was "safe" and then you had out which was when you joined the person who was "it" and had to help them tig people, out was usually when you'd been tigged a few times ... conjugate the verb to tig!
We also had "can't tig the butcher back" meaning if you've jsut tigged or tug someone they can't instantly tig you back and therefore must find someone else to tig, therefore it's a three or more person game. :)

We also had the old man on the hill game, where one of us would be the old man (or woman), then the rest of us would each have a number, and then we'd creep towards them (the "old man" would have his/her back facing us) and they'd count and turn on which ever number they liked, the person moving still would have to go back 10 paces. Anyway, say that person was number 5, the old man would turn back round and count to five (at any speed) and then turn again ... and it's the first one to tig the old man that wins.

04 Sep 09 - 12:12 PM (#2716191)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,GUEST, OldRugface

In Nottinghamshire from at least the 1950's until at least the 1990's, when I heard my own children playing versions of the same game, "Tig" was referred to as "Dobby". There were diferent versions such as "Dobby off ground", where the person who was "on" couldn't "dob" you if your feet were off the ground. "Dobby Little-Man" meant you were protected if you crouched down before being "dobbed" etc. Various "Dips" were indeed used to decide who was "on". "Dip, dip, dip,
          my blue ship,
          sails on the water,
          like a cup and saucer,
          O - U - T spells out!"
Some "Dips" required a number being picked by the first child to be identified e.g.
   "Mrs. Ink fell down the sink,
    how many miles did she fall? (the child now identified choses a number, such as "five". The child "Dipping" now continues counting around the circle)
    "One, two, three, four, five and O-U-T spells out!"

06 Sep 09 - 06:48 AM (#2717373)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mr Happy

Round our way, the 'dipping ' was similar, but for a contrived dip, the chant could be lengthened by the crafty to ensure a different outcome, as in

Dip, dip, dip, my blue ship,
sails on the water,like a cup and saucer,
O - U - T spells out, & out you are !"

06 Sep 09 - 06:49 AM (#2717375)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mr Happy

Sorry, forgot to say the area was Boughton, Chester, Cheshire UK

06 Sep 09 - 08:31 AM (#2717405)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: MGM·Lion

For the record: jacks or dibs was called 'fivestones' in N London [Hendon] where I was at school.

15 Jul 10 - 04:01 PM (#2945769)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)

I remember in the late '90s (when I was a kid) we would play Zombie Tag. When the person who was It would tag you, you had to walk around acting like a zombie, with your arms stretched out in front of you. The game ended when everyone was a zombie. Not sure if zombies could tag people.

15 Jul 10 - 04:02 PM (#2945770)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: GUEST,ADalton

Forgot to mention in my last post location was California.

03 Apr 11 - 02:25 PM (#3127768)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Mysha


In Dutch, "tikkertje spelen", which is: play "tikkertje". "-tje" is the diminutive suffix, and "-er(d)" is the suffix for the actor, leaving for the action "tik" (as an imperative or 1st person). It might derive from English "tig", as that g doesn't exist in Dutch. It might also stem from "tikken" in the sense of "to tick", a short, noticeable touch, though for some reason in Dutch that's only from around 1600.

In Frisian "tikboartsje", with "boartsje" being "to play" (child's play, rather than theatre). It would not have come from English directly, as Frisian does have the same g as English, but it could have come by way of Dutch. Then again, it might have been in our language much longer: In old Frisian there's "tigta", to point out someone, in the sense of accusing or blaming them. Have we been trying to pass the blame around all this time?

Viracocha : It's always: who gets caught takes your place, otherwise the games unbalances.

Guest Anonymous : The Zombies could tag (over here), but they had to stay in character, meaning a single zombie could easily be evaded, but zombies teaming up would get more and more difficult. Probably something that was inspired by the Living Dead films.


04 Apr 11 - 02:17 AM (#3128043)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: Snuffy


In the parts of England I know, the game is "tick" (or even "ticky"), not "tig", so the connection to Dutch and Friesian may be closer than you think.

04 Apr 11 - 05:16 AM (#3128086)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Tag (the game)
From: MGM·Lion

It was always 'tiggy' at Hendon County, 1943-44. A favourite was 'tiggy-off-the-ground', in which you could not be had if your feet were off the ground standing on a bench &c. There was also 'tiggy-green', where you had to touch something green to be exempt from being had. Boys wore shorts in those days; & members of the Boy Scouts would have green tabs hanging from the garter holding up the sock under the fold-over; it had to be agreed that running around leaning down & clutching these, apart from making yourself look absurd, did not count as a green refuge!