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barleys

interjection a cry indicating that you are 'safe' during a game. Compare bar1, barley, bars.
Contributor's comments: Barleys was used when we were kids in the Pilbara and also down South (Perth) and is still used today.


Contributor's comments: [SA informant] Barleys only came into effect if we had our fingers crossed and made everyone in the game (at least the people who were in charge at the time) aware of the fact that we were barleys. Being barleys meant being invisible - you couldn't be caught in a game of chasey if you were barleys - and the game continued without you. When you returned from the toilet or when the conversation with another person had finished, then you had to say "I'm back" to let people know that you were back in the game again.

Contributor's comments: We used barleys in Western Victoria too.

Contributor's comments: [Brisbane informant] When I was a kid, "bar" was a safe area during a game of tiggy/tag. The pursuee could run and touch the safe area, e.g. a clothsline, where they were safe from being caught by whoever was "up." Typical usage would be "You can't get me, I'm on bar!"

Contributor's comments: I was listening to Australia talks back tonight and the second caller was saying that in WA they say "Barleys to that" and that he did not know what it meant. Growing up Adelaide, I knew the use of "barleys" from chasing games so when I moved to WA and heard this expression I always assumed that people were meaning "I wont touch that" or "I'm not touching that" in the same way thatyounger Australian's seemed to have picked up from US television the saying "I'm not going there" when they don't want to discuss a particular issue. This meaning always seemed to fit the context when WA people used the phrase.

Contributor's comments: Definitely used in Melbourne in the 1950s. We used "barley."

Contributor's comments: We used 'barleys' and 'bars' interchangably, using the former for emphasis or (more commonly) the latter for speed. I grew up in Adelaide, in a family formerly from the Wimmera district.

Contributor's comments: I've used barlees as an adult. And heard others use it. Very appropriate when one finds one has inadvertantly entered, in conversation, an area of conflict between others.

Contributor's comments: In WA there is the expression 'barleys to that" meaning: Give me a break, Give me a fair go.

Contributor's comments: 'Barley' (singular) was used in Victoria when I was a kid to cause a break in the game to make comments. It was also used by adults to abort kids fights or simply to make a statement in the middle of kids games.

Contributor's comments: Evidently, universally "bar" in SE Qld. From people I have spoken with, "barley" seems to be exclusively Victorian.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in the area between Shepparton and the Murray River in Victoria. We used the word 'barley' to grant immunity during games.

Contributor's comments: [Adelaide informant] Yes, this was used when I was in primary school, around 15-20 years ago.

Contributor's comments: I was brought up in Wagga Wagga and we used to say "bar-LEE" to gain exemption form being "tipped" while playing a game and e.g. pausing for breath or blowing one's nose, etc.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in the mid-north of South Australia where the expression "barley(s)" was extensively used as a term meaning time out of any given game.

Contributor's comments: To stop play for a moment (in a game). If someone were going into great detail about nothing or were going off track, barleez would give you permission to interupt and seek clarification of a point.

Contributor's comments: Growing up near Melb. in the 1940s, we used "barley" but always in the singular; I had never heard "barleys" used in this fashion.

Contributor's comments: In Melbourne as kid in the 70's it was 'Barley' as opposed to 'Barleys'. We also used the word 'Dettol' to 'protect' yourself in a game (eg from Girl germs!). I notice my kids now use the phrase 'Pause Game'!

Contributor's comments: We used 'barleys' to indicate that one was not able to be 'tagged' at school (in Adelaide) during the 1980s.

Contributor's comments: In Perth in the late 60s early 70s, "bar-lees" was used to duck out of a chasey or brandy game for a bit. We tended to pronounce it bar-LEES rather than BAR-lees.

Contributor's comments: I am neutral, as in chasies, or any game: "I am barlies."

Contributor's comments: We always used to use this for chasey when I was in primary school as well, but I think the general Perth take on the word is bar-LEEZ rather than BAR-leys.

Contributor's comments: Isn't this term just a corruption of 'Parlez' (French), meaning to have a sort of cease fire in order to 'talk'.

Contributor's comments: I used barleys growing up in WA, but my husband, from NSW, never knew of it. We were discussing this with someone in the UK last year who said it is used in some parts of the UK but not all, and that it dates back to Norman times and was originally a French term "bar laise" (not sure about the spelling - hope someone else can translate). Whether or not it is used in your region of Australia is probably dependent on which part of the UK your first local Brits arrived from.