Bingo Calls

If you are a frequent visitor of bingo halls or love to play online bingo, you will be well versed in what we call ‘bingo lingo.’ Calling out bingo numbers is a talent in itself as the caller has to remember the lingo for each one! Some of these names can be confusing as they need to be rhymes or abbreviations of the numbers. However, as you get more accustomed to the game and socialise more with other players, you will quickly get the hang of this bingo slang.

Bingo Calls

As the player, you will need to have a general understanding of these calls to keep up with the gameplay and it will contribute to the overall enjoyment of the game. Below, we have everything you need to know about bingo lingo, where it came from, the calls that you need to know, and we dive into how some of the most iconic bingo calls got their quirky names.

Where Did Bingo Begin?

Before we get into the history of bingo calls, it is important to look at the origins of bingo and where it began. We can trace bingo right back to Italy in 1530, were the Lo Gioco del Lotto D’Italia was launched. It grew over Europe throughout the 1800s and became similar to what we know today in France as they designed a 90 ball bingo game that communities played in a hall. They would cross out numbers that were called from wooden tokens.

Bingo did not hit America until the 1930s. Edwin S Lowe watched a game of Beano at a carnival and loved the excitement and social aspect to the game. He was a car salesman but decided to focus on bringing this game to his home state of New York. At first, he would play the game with friends to test out different rules, before taking it to a larger audience. It only took one caller calling Bingo instead of Beano and they never looked back.

Bingo then made its way to UK cinema halls in the 1950s. As the novelty of the cinema started to fade and the television took over, these establishments needed a way to draw people back out and bingo was the answer. Bingo halls started to take the place of cinema halls and peaked in the 1960s. It was still incredibly popular all the way up to, and through, the 1990s until online bingo started to pick up steam. It is still very popular with players today with hundreds of bingo halls up and down the country where you can hear lots of traditional bingo calls.

Where Do Bingo Rhymes Originate?

The history of bingo lingo is very interesting and they were first used in mid-20th century London, however, it wasn’t for bingo rhymes or bingo calls, but was to pass on hidden and secret messages. It then made its way onto the bingo scene and bingo callers used them to easily distinguish between each of the numbers as they were called out. Many numbers sound similar and can be easily confused, especially when playing in a large room and bingo rhymes helped to combat this.

As time went by, more and more lingo was added to bingo calls and these also sometimes varied by region. Many people also believe that the bingo calls originate from a game called Housey Housey that was played by those in the army during the 1930s. As you’ll see below, there are lots of military references in bingo calls and it is thought this link is the reason why!

Is there an App to Call Bingo Numbers?

Yes, there is a tonne of bingo calling apps that you can download on to your iOS or Android mobile device. A popular one to check out is Bingo Caller Machine which can be used across a multitude of devices including mobiles, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs and smart TVs and is the perfect replacement for real bingo callers.

What Bingo Variations Can I Play on the Bingo Caller App?

It works in the same way as your standard bingo machine and you even have the choice of choosing between 60 ball, 75 ball or 90 ball bingo games.

Does the Bingo Caller App Use the Traditional Bingo Lingo?

If you use the Bingo Caller Machine app, then yes, you can choose different settings to have your numbers called out which includes the traditional bingo lingo like legs eleven, simply numbers such as 11, or there is also the option to choose American style calls too.

Complete List of Traditional Bingo Call Numbers

If you are an avid bingo player, then you will know all of the bingo lingo that goes along with calling out bingo numbers. There’s a knack to it with lots of fun nicknames for each of the numbers. If you are new to the world of bingo, then it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the bingo calls below as it will help you feel more confident when playing the game! Plus, many of these numbers have response calls which you don’t want to miss out on when you are playing as it is great for engaging with the audience.

  1.  Kelly’s Eye
  2. One Little Duck
  3. Cup of Tea
  4. Knock at the Door
  5. Man Alive
  6. Tom Mix
  7. Lucky Seven
  8. Garden Gate
  9. Doctor’s Orders
  10. Boris’s Den
  11. Legs 11
  12. One Dozen
  13. Unlucky for Some
  14. Valentine’s Day
  15. Young and Keen
  16. Sweet 16
  17. Dancing Queen
  18. Coming of Age
  19. Goodbye Teens
  20. One Score
  21. Royal Salute
  22. Two Little Ducks
  23. Thee and Me
  24. Two Dozen
  25. Duck and Dive
  26. Pick and Mix
  27. Gateway to Heaven
  28. Over Weight
  29. Rise and Shine
  30. Dirty Gertie
  31. Get Up and Run
  32. Buckle My Shoe
  33. Dirty Knee
  34. Ask for More
  35. Jump and Jive
  36. Three Dozen
  37. More than 11
  38. Christmas Cake
  39. Steps
  40. Naughty 40
  41. Time for Fun
  42. Winnie the Pooh
  43. Down on Your Knees
  44. Droopy Drawers
  45. Halfway There
  46. Up to Tricks
  47. Four and Seven
  48. Four Dozen
  49. PC
  50. Half a Century
  51. Tweak of the Thumb
  52. Danny La Rue
  53. Stuck in the Tree
  54. Clean the Floor
  55. Snakes Alive
  56. Was She Worth It?
  57. Heinz Varieties
  58. Make Them Wait
  59. Brighton Line
  60. Five Dozen
  61. Bakers Bun
  62. Turn the Screw
  63. Tickle Me 63
  64. Red Raw
  65. Old Age Pension
  66. Clickety Click
  67. Made in Heaven
  68. Saving Grace
  69. Either Way Up
  70. Three Score and 10
  71. Bang on the Drum
  72. Six Dozen
  73. Queen B
  74. Candy Store
  75. Strive and Strive
  76. Trombones
  77. Sunset Strip
  78. Heaven’s Gate
  79. One More Time
  80. Eight and Blank
  81. Stop and Run
  82. Straight On Through
  83. Time for Tea
  84. Seven Dozen
  85. Staying Alive
  86. Between the Sticks
  87. Torquay in Devon
  88. Two Fat Ladies
  89. Nearly There
  90. Top of the Shop

Why is 49 PC in Bingo?

This is a bingo call that dates way back to the 1940s! The Adventures of PC 49 was a television programme that aired from 1946 to 1953 and focused on a quirky police officer who solved cases in London. It’s a little outdated this call, but fun all the same.

Why is 59 the Brighton Line?

Back in the day, a popular British past time for Londoners was to take a day trip to the beach. They would head to the South Coast and Brighton on route 59, hence the name!

Why is 88 Two Fat Ladies?

88 is two fat ladies because of the shape of the number 8. Two number 8’s then looks like two fat ladies.

Why is 22 Two Little Ducks?

Again, this is all about the shape of the numbers. The number 2 looks like the shape of a duck, so with 22, we have two little ducks as the bingo call.

Why is 17 Dancing Queen?

This is in reference to the hit Abba song, Dancing Queen! The lyrics in the song are “Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only 17.” Hence, the number 17 relates to this song.

Bingo Calls with Historical References

Many bingo calls have historical references. Bingo didn’t come to life in the UK until the 1950s and peaked in the 60s, so this is the time period where most of the historical bingo calls come from. Many of them also include military references as it was after the Second World War. These are bingo calls that have been around now for decades and most do not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Some of the most popular historical bingo call references that we still hear today include:

  • Kelly’s Eye – There are different interpretations of this bingo call from number 1, but one is that it is connected to military slang.
  • Doctor’s Orders – This is another call originating from the military and the Second World War in particular. This is the call for the number 9 and it was the number 9 pill that British doctors would give to soldiers. It was a laxative to clear out their body of illness.
  • Boris’s Den – This is a historical reference too as it is for the number 10 which rhymes with Number 10, the official residence of the British Prime Minister. This is a call that changes with each prime minister. Right now, it is Boris’s Den, but previously it has been Cameron’s Den for Prime Minister David Cameron, Maggie’s Den for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Tony’s Den for Prime Minister Tony Blair. This will, of course, change for the next Prime Minister.
  • Royal Salute – This is for the number 21, a historical reference to the royal and military ceremonies that present a 21 gun salute.
  • Dirty Genie – A historical reference for the number 30, as Dirty Gertie from Bizerte was a funny song sung by the soldiers during the Second World War. It often, however, gets shorted down simply to dirty thirty.
  • Winne the Pooh – We all know the beloved children’s character Winnie the Pooh and this is used in bingo calls as it rhymes with the number 42. This is an old reference as Pooh was first created back in the 1920s and was picked up by Walt Disney in the 1960s. This is still a popular reference as everyone still loves these characters.
  • Was She Worth It? – This one that can be confusing until you hear the history behind it. This is used for the number 56 in bingo calls as a marriage license used to cost five shillings and sixpence back in the 50s. This is also a response call, so if you hear it at a bingo hall, you can shout back ‘every penny!’
  • Heinz Varieties – Everyone is familiar with the brand Heinz, it is a British staple in every household. It is also used for the number 57 in bingo calls as, you may not now, the founder Henry Heinz’s lucky number was 57 and so the company has 57 different varieties of canned beans.

Modern Bingo Call Twists

Some bingo calls are a little outdated and many bingo halls have come up with modernised versions instead that always contribute a laugh to the game. Some of the most popular new additions in recent years include:

  • Tinder Date – This replaced Garden Gate for the number 8 bingo call, a reference to the mobile dating app that is incredibly popular in this day and age.
  • Selfie Queen – In many bingo halls, Selfie Queen is used for the number 17 instead of Dancing Queen. Who doesn’t love a good selfie?

As you can see, there is so much interesting history behind bingo calls and we still use many of the same historical references today. Many numbers have been modernised, but only add to the fun atmosphere of the game and always provide a laugh. Familiarise yourself with these numbers to enjoy games of bingo in a hall, or online bingo, even more!

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