If you’ve ever played or watched bingo in a traditional bingo hall or even just dabbled in some online bingo you may have noticed that there are some strange bingo names that you simply don’t understand. Calling bingo numbers out isn’t as simple as just 1, 2, 3… and you weren’t mistaken if you think you may have heard something about little ducks or Winnie the pooh.
How is modern bingo played?
Before we get to the bingo terms, we thought that we’d quickly go over the basics of bingo to refresh your memories or show you what it’s about if you’ve never played before.
There are different kinds of bingo that can be played, but on a whole, it is played by crossing off the numbers that are on your ticket when they are called out. You win the game if you cross off all the numbers on your ticket before anyone else.
The type of game, such as a 90 ball or 75 ball, that you are taking part in will decide the amount of numbers that you have on your ticket. The amount of numbers on your ticket will be the same amount that can be called out by the bingo callers.
Don’t be confused by the ‘balls’ in the name of your game either, it’s simply due to the fact that the numbers being called out used to be printed onto balls. However, with the invention of bingo sites, almost all the bingo balls are generated electronically.
Bingo Lingo Number
Back to the “Bingo Lingo”. Bingo numbers are often called out in traditional bingo rhymes. If you’re new to online bingo, it may be a tad confusing hearing “Two Fat Ladies” or other modern abbreviations and bingo sayings. However, don’t be alarmed if your fellow bingo players start using strange terms; bingo is a very sociable game and you simply just have to get to grips with the bingo slang meaning and you’ll find yourself understanding in no time.
How did the rhymes originate?
Most of the bingo terms associated with the numbers are rhymes. They were originally used in London in the mid-20th century, where they were used to pass on secret or hidden messages. These rhymes were very quickly picked up by bingo players who used them in the bingo halls to ensure that all 90 letters could be clarified easily when called out. In a big hall, the number 15 and 50 could sound very similar, so they adopted these rhymes/nicknames in order to distinctly tell letter apart. As the use of these nicknames spread, they changed from place to place and some new bingo sayings were added.
Here is a complete list of the bingo slang meaning with regards to the numbers and other strange words that you might come across if you play bingo online or in person.
Bingo Calls: The complete list
|1 – Kelly’s eye||46 – Up to tricks|
|2 – One little duck||47 – Four and seven|
|3 – Cup of tea||48 – Four dozen|
|4 – Knock at the door||49 – PC|
|5 – Man alive||50 – Half a century|
|6 – Tom Mix/Half a dozen||51 – Tweak of the thumb|
|7 – Lucky seven||52 – Danny La Rue|
|8 – Garden gate||53 – Here comes Herbie/Stuck in a tree|
|9 – Doctor’s orders||54 – Clean the floor|
|10 – [Prime Minister’s name]’s den||55 – Snakes alive|
|11 – Legs eleven||56 – Shotts Bus|
|12 – One dozen||57 – Heinz varieties|
|13 – Unlucky for some||58 – Make them wait|
|14 – Valentine’s Day||59 – Brighton Line|
|15 – Young and keen||60 – Five dozen|
|16 – Sweet 16 and never been kissed||61 – Baker’s bun|
|17 – Dancing queen||62 – Turn the screw/Tickety-boo|
|18 – Coming of age||63 – Tickle me 63|
|19 – Goodbye teens||64 – Red raw|
|20 – One score||65 – Old age pension|
|21 – Royal salute/Key of the door||66 – Clickety click|
|22 – Two little ducks||67 – Stairway to heaven|
|23 – Thee and me||68 – Saving Grace|
|24 – Two dozen||69 – Favourite of mine|
|25 – Duck and dive||70 – Three score and ten|
|26 – Pick and mix||71 – Bang on the drum|
|27 – Gateway to heaven||72 – Six dozen|
|28 – In a state/Over weight||73 – Queen bee|
|29 – Rise and shine||74 – Hit the floor|
|30 – Dirty Gertie||75 – Strive and strive|
|31 – Get up and run||76 – Trombones|
|32 – Buckle my shoe||77 – Sunset strip|
|33 – Dirty knee/All the threes/Fish, chips & peas||78 – 39 more steps|
|34 – Ask for more||79 – One more time|
|35 – Jump and jive||80 – Eight and blank|
|36 – Three dozen||81 – Stop and run|
|37 – More than eleven||82 – Straight on through|
|38 – Christmas cake||83 – Time for tea|
|39 – 39 steps||84 – Seven dozen|
|40 – Life begins||85 – Staying alive|
|41 – Time for fun||86 – Between the sticks|
|42 – Winnie the Pooh||87 – Torquay in Devon|
|43 – Down on your knees||88 – Two fat ladies|
|44 – Droopy drawers||89 – Nearly there|
|45 – Halfway there||90 – Top of the shop|
Bingo number names
1 – Kelly’s eye
This bingo saying could be a reference to Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s greatest folk heroes – but many think it’s just military slang.
2 – One little duck
The number 2 looks just like a little duckling!
3 – Cup of tea
Because the British are particularly fond of tea and purely because it rhymes. Put the kettle on then!
4 – Knock at the door
Who’s there?! This phrase rhymes with the number 4.
5 – Man alive
Another great bingo calling sheet rhyme.
6 – Tom Mix/Half a dozen
Tom Mix was America’s first Western Star, appearing in 291 films. His legend lives on in this rhyming bingo call. A dozen is 12 and half of 12 is 6, which is the alternative bingo saying the caller could choose.
7 – Lucky seven
The number 7 is considered lucky in many cultures. There are 7 days of the week, 7 colours of the rainbow and 7 notes on a musical scale.
8 – Garden gate
This saying rhymes with the number 8, but there’s said to be something more about the history of this call. Legend has it that the ‘garden gate’ was a code for a secret meeting or drop off point.
9 – Doctor’s orders
During World War II, Number 9 was the name of a pill given out by army doctors to solidiers who were a little bit poorly. This powerful laxative was said to clear the system of all ills!
10 – [Prime Minister’s name]’s den
Always up to date, bingo callers will insert the name of the current Prime Minister into this call. It references number 10 Downing Street.
11 – Legs eleven
One of the many calls that relates to the shape that the number makes. The two 1s look like a pair of slender legs. Whit woo!
12 – One dozen
12 makes up a dozen.
13 – Unlucky for some
Many superstitious people believe that 13 is an unlucky number – but if you call house on 13, it’s lucky for you!
14 – Valentine’s Day
Referring to 14th February, the international day of romance.
15 – Young and keen
15 rhymes with keen .
16 – Sweet 16 and never been kissed
Turning 16 marks a special birthday. You’re not quite an adult, but you’re no longer a child.
17 – Dancing queen
“You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen!” We can thank ABBA and their 1976 hit single ‘Dancing Queen’ for this bingo call.
18 – Coming of age
This milestone denotes when you’re officially an adult. Some callers also shout: “Now you can vote!”
19 – Goodbye teens
The last teenage year!
20 – One score / Getting Plenty
There are 20 units in a score. The phrase ‘getting plenty’ is also a cheeky rhyme with the number.
21 – Royal salute / Key of the door
There are 21 guns fired in a royal or military salute. 21 was also the traditional age where you’d move out of your parents’ house and have your own keys to your own place.
22 – Two little ducks
Again, this call exists to describe the shape that the numbers make.
23 – The Lord is my shepherd
A biblical reference, this is the first phrase of Psalm 23 in the Old Testament.
24 – Two dozen
12 is one dozen and 24 makes two dozen.
25 – Duck and dive
Another call that rhymes but it’s also said that the number 2 is the duck and you want to dive away from the number 5 which looks like a snake! One of the stranger bingo terms, that’s for sure.
26 – Half a crown
This saying comes from predecimalization (old money), where two shillings and sixpence made up half a crown.
27 – Gateway to heaven
You will be in heaven if you call house on this bingo rhyming slang!
28 – In a state
Cockney rhyming slang. “He was in a right two and eight” means “He was in a poor state!”
29 – Rise and shine
The numbers rhyme with this cheery saying.
30 – Dirty Gertie
Rhyming with 30, this phrase comes from the nickname for the statue La Délivrance, a bronze sculpture of a naked lady installed in North London in 1927. There was also a raucous song called Dirty Gertie from Bizerte, which was sung by Allied soldiers in North Africa during the Second World War.
31 – Get up and run
Get up and run when you hear this rhyming call for 31.
32 – Buckle my shoe
The phrase rhymes with the numbers.
33 – All the threes/Fish, chips and peas
33 represents all the 3s available in a 90 ball game. It also rhymes with the traditional English fish supper from the chippy. Yum!
34 – Ask for more
A great rhyme, especially following 33!
35 – Jump and jive
You’ll be doing this dance step if you call house on number 35.
36 – Three dozen
Plain and simple, 3 lots of 12.
37 – More than eleven
Lots of numbers are more than 11, but this one kind of rhymes!
38 – Christmas cake
Another term derived from cockney rhyming slang.
39 – 39 steps
From the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie called 39 Steps.
40 – Life begins
Life begins at 40! Who are we to disagree with this well-known bingo call?!
41 – Time for fun
Life has begun so it’s time for some fun!
42 – Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne were first published in 1926. The honey-loving bear became part of the Walt Disney family in 1965.
43 – Down on your knees
Harking back to war-time Britain, this phrase was often used by soldiers during the war.
44 – Droopy drawers
Said to be a visual reference to sagging trousers!
45 – Halfway there
There are 90 balls in traditional British bingo [www.meccabingo.com] games and 45 is half of 90.
46 – Up to tricks
This phrase rhymes with the number 46.
47 – Four and seven
Not particularly inspiring, but does what it says on the tin. Can you think of a better one?
48 – Four dozen
4 x 12 = 48
49 – PC
This call is based on the old TV programme ‘The Adventures of P.C. 49,’ which aired from 1946–53. The show told the stories of an unconventional police constable solving cases in London.
50 – Half a century
A full century is 100 and 50 is half of that.
51 – Tweak of the thumb
A quirky call that rhymes. Could also be replaced with “I love my mum.”
52 – Danny La Rue
Another great rhyme that references the Irish cross-dressing singer and entertainer who rose to fame in the mid ‘40s.
53 – Here comes Herbie
53 is the number of the VW Beetle Herbie, the car featured in a number of films by Walt Disney in the 1960s. Players often respond with “Beep, beep!”
54 – Clean the floor
Nobody wants to think about housework while they’re playing bingo, but this rhyme has been around for years.
55 – Snakes alive
Another visual bingo call. The two fives look like snakes ready to spring.
56 – Shotts Bus / Was she worth it?
The original number of the bus route from Glasgow to Shotts. Five shillings and sixpence was how much a marriage licence used to cost. When the caller asked: “Was she worth it?” many players would shout back “Every penny!”
57 – Heinz varieties
Referring to the number in the logo of food company Heinz. The number 57 was reportedly picked by the founder as he wanted to claim he offered the greatest selection of pickles. Five was his lucky number and 7 was his wife’s.
58 – Make them wait
This is another rhyming call. Players often respond with “Choo choo, Thomas!”
59 – Brighton Line
There are mixed ideas on where this comes from. Some think that it’s the number of the train from Brighton to London, engine 59 – and others say that all original telephone numbers in Brighton started with 59.
60 – Five dozen / Grandma’s getting frisky
Our favourite reference is back again! 5 x 12 = 60. 60 almost rhymes with frisky and is the traditional age that women could retire and draw a state pension.
61 – Baker’s bun
This bingo call rhymes with the number.
62 – Turn the screw / Tickety-boo
Both these phrases rhyme with the number. Tickety-boo is slang for ‘good’ or ‘going well’.
63 – Tickle me
Another cheeky phrase that rhymes, but its origins are unclear.
64 – Red raw
Not the closest rhyme to the number 64 but this bingo call seems to have stood the test of time.
65 – Old age pension
The traditional age that men could retire in the UK.
66 – Clickety click
This great sounding rhyme sounds like a train steaming down a track.
67 – Stairway to heaven
Another whimsical rhyming bingo call.
68 – Pick a mate
Bingo [www.meccabingo.com] is better with friends! Pick a mate and look out for this rhyming call.
69 – Any way up
This call explains how the number 69 looks the same upside down.
70 – Three score and ten
More maths! 3 x 2 = 60, plus 10 = 70!
71 – Bang on the drum
In the early 2000s, a campaign called to change this traditional call to ‘J.Lo’s bum’. What do you make of that?
72 – Six dozen
Another reference using that famous dozen metric.
73 – Queen bee
We’re buzzing about this bingo call that rhymes.
74 – Hit the floor
A call that rhymes. Makes us want to hit the dance floor, too!
75 – Strive and strive
We’re striving for a full house. Hope it lands when this call is shouted.
76 – Trombones
This pop-culture bingo call references the lyrics in the popular marching song ‘76 Trombones’ from the musical, The Music Man.
77 – Sunset strip
So called because of the popular 1950s/60s private investigator TV show, 77 Sunset Strip.
78 – 39 more steps
This references the 39 Steps film again, as 39 + 39 = 78
79 – One more time
Nothing to do with Britney Spears, just another call that rhymes!
80 – Ghandi’s breakfast
Because he is said to have ate nothing… eight nothing… geddit?!
81 – Stop and run
A bit of a confusing bingo rhyme…how can you stop and run and the same time?
82 – Straight on through
Another lovely rhyme that’s been around since bingo began.
83 – Time for tea
Another reference to the UK’s favourite beverage. Two quintessentially British pastimes; bingo and brews!
84 – Seven dozen
The last of our dozen references! 7 x 12 = 84.
85 – Staying alive
This bingo call was around well before the Bee Gees, but we like it and it rhymes!
86 – Between the sticks
Not only does this rhyme, but it is said to refer to the number 86 being the position of goalkeepers, who would spend the match ‘between the sticks’ or goalposts.
87 – Torquay in Devon
It rhymes and also provides a geography lesson!
88 – Two fat ladies
A visual representation… the number 88 is said to look like two fat ladies sitting next to each other.
89 – Nearly there
A reference to 89 being 1 away from 90 – the end of the bingo numbers.
90 – Top of the shop / end of the line / as far as we go
All the calls that go with the number 90 in bingo reference it being the highest or last number.
Play bingo free online
Whether you’re looking to play free bingo or online bingo that’s a little more competitive, Mecca Bingo has something for you! If you’re ready to win, then grab your cards and let’s go!