Mecca Bingo calls – The full rundown

If you’re familiar with bingo, you’ll probably have heard all kinds of funny names being called alongside the numbers…ever wondered what’s it all about? And do you know them all? We thought as much. Let us give you a cheeky rundown!

How is bingo played?

Before we get to the bingo terms, let’s run over the basics of bingo itself.

There’s a couple of different kinds of bingo that can be played – but generally, it’s by crossing off numbers which are on your ticket when they’re called out. If you cross off all the numbers on your ticket before anyone else, you win the game. Simple!

The type of game that you’re taking part in will decide the amount of numbers that you have on your ticket (for instance, 90-ball or 75-ball). The amount of numbers on your ticket will be the same amount that can be called out by the bingo callers.

There’s no need to be confused by the ‘balls’ in the name of your game – it’s due to the fact that the numbers that are called out used to be printed onto balls. Since the invention of online bingo, almost all the bingo balls are generated electronically, which can make the word ‘balls’ confusing for new players!

What about the bingo lingo?

Bingo numbers tend to be called out via traditional bingo rhymes. If you’re new to online bingo, it may be confusing to hear “Two Fat Ladies” or other sayings that you aren’t familiar with. No need for alarm if you don’t know the terms – bingo is a sociable game and you don’t need to know the bingo slang to play (though it’s nice to have an idea).

Where did the rhymes come from?

As you may have noticed, the majority of bingo terms associated with the numbers are rhymes! Originally, they were used to pass on secret messages in London during the mid-20th century. The rhymes were quickly picked up by bingo players to ensure that all 90 letters could be clarified easily when called out. Think about it: in a big bingo hall, the numbers 15 and 50 could sound similar to the point of causing confusion, so these rhymes enabled bingo players to distinguish each number as they were being called out. As the use of these nicknames spread, they evolved from one place to another and some new bingo sayings were added to the mix!

So here it is…the complete list of bingo calls and their corresponding rhymes. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion next time you hear one!

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 may be a reference to Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s greatest folk heroes…but then again, maybe not. Many suspect it’s just military slang!

2 – One little duck

As apt as it is adorable…the number 2 looks like a little duckling!

3 – Cup of tea

We all love a rhyme – not as much as we love a cuppa, mind!

4 – Knock at the door

Who’s there?! This phrase rhymes with the number 4.

5 – Man alive

We love this energetic bingo call rhyme.

6 – Tom Mix/Half a dozen

Tom Mix was America’s first Western Star, appearing in a whopping 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 by 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 weren’t feeling too well. 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

Another cheeky call that pertains to the shape made by the number: the two 1s look like a pair of slender legs. Whit woo!

12 – One dozen

12 makes up a dozen.

13 – Unlucky for some

Superstition dictates 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 huge 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’ll want to dive away from the number 5, which looks like a snake! An interesting one…

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’ll be in heaven if you call house on this bingo rhyming slang!

28 – In a state

Old school cockney slang. “He was in a right two and eight” means “He was in a poor state!”

29 – Rise and shine

A cheerful saying for a cheerful number.

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

Why not?

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. Delicious!

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

A visual reference to sagging trousers!

45 – Halfway there

There are 90 balls in traditional British bingo [] games and 45 is half of 90.

46 – Up to tricks

Aren’t we all!

47 – Four and seven

A little less original than the others…guess they ran out of steam for this one!

48 – Four dozen

4 x 12 = 48. Simple maths!

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

Could also be replaced with “I love my mum.” Which is your favourite?

52 – Danny La Rue

This references the popular Irish cross-dressing singer and entertainer who rose to fame in the mid-1940s.

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

Not for too long, we hope!

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 – while others say that all original telephone numbers in Brighton started with 59.

60 – Five dozen / Grandma’s getting frisky

Our favourite reference has returned! 5 x 12 = 60. 60 nearly rhymes with ‘frisky’ and is the traditional age where women could retire and claim a state pension.

61 – Baker’s bun

Mmmm…we wouldn’t say no!

62 – Turn the screw / Tickety-boo

Both these phrases rhyme with the number. Tickety-boo is retro slang for ‘good’ or ‘going well’.

63 – Tickle me

Another cheeky phrase that rhymes, though 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, so why question it?

65 – Old age pension

The traditional age that men could retire in the UK.

66 – Clickety click

This rhyme sounds like a train steaming down a track.

67 – Stairway to heaven

Another whimsical bingo call.

68 – Pick a mate

Bingo [] 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’. Any thoughts on that – or do you prefer the original?

72 – Six dozen

Another reference using that famous dozen metric.

73 – Queen bee

We’re buzzing about this bingo call!

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…good phrase though!

80 – Ghandi’s breakfast

Because he is said to have ate nothing…eight nothing…geddit?!

81 – Stop and run

But…how can you stop and run and the same time? We’ll get back to you on that one!

82 – Straight on through

This one’s been around since bingo began – and we think it’s great.

83 – Time for tea

Another reference to the UK’s favourite beverage. Two quintessentially British pastimes right there: 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

Who said you can’t teach geography in 3 words?

88 – Two fat ladies

Another 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.

We hope that these have given you some insight, and a laugh! What would bingo calls be like if they were invented today?

Whether you’re looking to play free bingo or online bingo that’s a little more competitive, you’ll find something just for you at Mecca Bingo. If you’re ready to start winning and having fun, then you’re in the right place!


4 thoughts on “Mecca Bingo calls – The full rundown

  1. Ursula lewis

    Love number 56 shotts bus I thought my dad made this up as a child I lived not too far from there


    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

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