Funny Bingo Calls and Nicknames
Bingo has become a hugely popular form of entertainment across the generations, with young and old coming together to enjoy the simple thrills of the game. Even though this is such a highly played game, both inside bingo halls and online, it’s surprising how many people are unaware of its origins. Given its popularity in the UK alone, people naturally assume that it’s a UK created game, and yet its origins date all the way back to 1530, in Italy. However, the game that we recognise today, didn’t come into being until it was further developed in France, in the 1800s.
Funnily enough however, while the game dates back to the 1500s, and developed further in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that bingo names started to be used. And that is a UK feature that has become synonymous with bingo games ever since. Originally these bingo nicknames were used to convey secret messages in and around East London, however it didn’t take long for the mischievous fun to perforate bingo halls, and thus a key bingo feature was born. Not only did these bingo calls introduce additional fun into the body of the games, but it also helped bingo players differentiate between similar sounding names, such as 42 and 52, an argument that other bingo historians have remarked on.
Complete List of Funny Bingo Calls
If you’ve never played bingo inside a bingo hall, you may not have heard of many calls, if any at all, and so we’ve compiled a list of all known bingo nicknames:
- Kelly’s Eye
– a phrase that’s possibly derived from the military slang, Kelly’s Eye may also refer to Ned Kelly, Australian outlaw who wore a bullet proof armour.
- One Little Duck
– aka “Me & You”. The phrase was coined due to the similarity of a duck’s shape to number 2.
- Cup of Tea
– What rhymes with 3? Tea! You will soon learn that rhyme is the key to understanding plenty of other Bingo nicknames.
- Knock at the Door
– this one shouldn’t be too difficult to guess: door – four.
- Man Alive
– number 5.
- Tom Mix
– rhymes with 6.
- Lucky Seven
– sometimes referred to as just “Lucky”, due to the number’s symbolic link to prosperity and good fortune.
- Garden Gate
– rhymes with 8. “One Fat Lady” is also used due to the shape of number 8.
- Doctor’s Orders
– according to some sources, number 9 was a powerful laxative handed out to the Second World War soldiers.
- Cameron’s Den
– Number 10 refers to 10 Downing Street (residence of the PM in the UK). The name before the word “den” will therefore change accordingly.
- Legs 11
– refers to the shape of chicken legs.
- One Dozen
– one dozen = 12.
- Unlucky for Some
– refers to the popular belief of 13 being an unlucky number.
- Valentine’s Day
– Valentine’s is on the 14th of February, which makes this reference pretty straightforward.
- Young and Keen
– keen rhymes with 15, which is exactly when most of us are the keenest!
- Sweet 16
– no explanation needed here… Sometimes, this number is called out as “Never Been Kissed” after the 1932 pop song by the Blue Mountaineers.
- Dancing Queen
– young and sweet, only 17, as the song goes (Abba’s Dancing Queen released in 1976).
- Coming of Age
– the age when you are legally allowed to drink and vote is 18.
- Goodbye Teens
– the age at which we say goodbye to our teen years.
- One Score
– 20 units of something is sometimes referred to as a “score”. “Getting Plenty” is another variant of this Bingo nickname.
- Royal Salute
– the highest form of military honour, performed at royal and military events. Also known as the 21-gun salute.
- Two Little Ducks
– just like one duck looks like a number 2, a pair od ducks would be the best association to number 22.
- Thee and Me
– rhymes with number 23, although “the Lord Is My Shepherd” (psalm 23) is an equally popular nickname.
- Two Dozen
– 12+12 = 24.
- Duck and Dive
– rhymes with 25.
- Pick and Mix
– it’s 26! It can also be called out as “2 & 6”, “Half a Crown”, or A – Z since the alphabet has 26 letters.
- Gateway to Heaven
– rhymes with 27; you can also call it a “Duck & a Crutch”, duck representing number 2 and 7 representing the shape of a crutch.
- Over Weight
– rhymes with 28. “In a State”, state being referred to as “2 & 8”, is also a bingo nick for number 28.
- Rise and Shine
– rhymes with 29.
- Dirty Gertie
– not only does it rhyme with 30, Dirty Gertie is a sexually explicit song that was popular among soldiers in WWII.
- Get Up and Run
– rhymes with 31.
- Buckle My Shoe
– borrowed from the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”, rhymes with 32.
- Dirty Knee
– rhymes with 33.
- Ask for More
– rhymes with 34.
- Jump and Jive
– dance step, rhymes with 35.
- Three Dozen
– 12+12+12 = 36
- More than 11
– rhymes with 37. Another popular nick is “A Flee in Heaven”.
- Christmas Cake
– rhyming slang (cockney).
– as in Hitchcock’s 39 Steps, the 1935 thriller movie.
- Naughty 40
– known also as “Life Begins”, referencing the popular adage that life begins in the 40s.
- Time for Fun
– rhymes with 41.
- Winnie the Pooh
– popular character from A. A. Milne’s novel whose name rhymes with 42.
- Down on Your Knees
– popular military and police phrase; the word “knees” sounds a bit like three.
- Droopy Drawers
– saggy trousers that hang very low, often showing a person’s underwear.
- Halfway There
– there are 90 numbers in Bingo, and 45 is therefore the exact half.
- Up to Tricks
– rhymes with 46.
- Four and Seven
– clear-cut reference.
- Four Dozen
– 12+12+12+12 = 48
– PC is short for Police Constable, an operative figure in The Adventures of PC 49 black & white crime movie.
- Half a Century
– half a century is 50 years.
- Tweak of the Thumb
– or “I Love My Mum”, rhymes with 51.
- Danny La Rue
– reference to the impersonator and entertainer Danny La Rue. “Deck of Cards” and “Chicken Vindaloo” are popular alternatives.
- Stuck in the Tree
– rhymes with 53. “Here Comes Herbie” is preferred by some players, as it refers to Herbie the Love Bug fictional character.
- Clean the Floor
– or “Man at the Door”, rhymes with 54.
- Snakes Alive
– rhymes with (and looks a bit like) 55.
- Was She Worth It?
– refers to the cost of the marriage licence (5/6). Female players usually respond: “Every penny!”.
- Heinz Varieties
– reference to the marketing slogan “57 pickle varieties” introduced by Henry J Heinz, owner of the food manufacturing company.
- Make Them Wait
– rhymes with 58. Choo Choo Thomas can also be used since Thomas the Talk Engine’s number was 58 during the 50s.
- Brighton Line
– in addition to rhyming with 59, the initial two digits of original Brighton phone numbers were 5 and 9.
- Five Dozen
– 12×5 = 60, often replaced with “Grandma’s Feeling Frisky”.
- Bakers Bun
– rhymes with 61.
- Turn the Screw
– rhymes with 62. “Tickety-Boo” (which means all is well) can be used instead.
- Tickle Me 63
– Tickle Me rhymes with 63.
- Red Raw
– rhymes with 64. “The Beatles’ Number” and “Almost Retired” are also used often, referencing the age close to mandatory old age retirement.
- Old Age Pension
– 65 is the common retirement age in the United Kingdom.
- Clickety Click
– rhythmic succession of sounds similar to “66”.
- Made in Heaven
– rhymes with 67. Aka “Argumentative Number” which references the phrase “at sixes and sevens” (state of confusion).
- Saving Grace
– the origin of this nickname is unknown; it can be replaced with “Check Your Weight”, which rhymes with 68.
- Either Way Up
– a reference to the dual nature of number 6, which is actually 9 if you look at it upside down.
- Three Score and 10
– 20 is called a score, therefore, three scores would be 60, plus a 10 = 70.
- Bang on the Drum
– rhymes with 71.
- Six Dozen
– 12 x 6 = 72.
- Queen B
– rhymes with 73.
- Candy Store
– rhymes with 74. Can be replaced with “Hit the Floor”.
- Strive and Strive
– rhymes with 75.
– refers to Seventy-Six Trombones song from the popular musical The Music Man (1957).
- Sunset Strip
– 77 Sunset Strip was a detective series aired from 1958 to 1964.
- Heaven’s Gate
– rhymes with 78. “39 More Steps” is a popular replacement.
- One More Time
– rhymes with 79.
- Eight and Blank
– 8 and 0 (a blank), although “Gandhi’s Breakfast” is a more descriptive nickname – “ate nothing”.
- Stop and Run
– rhymes with 81. “Fat Lady with a Walking Stick” may sound offensive, but it is definitely more illustrative.
- Straight On Through
– rhymes with 82. “Fat Lady with a Duck”, duck being the number 2, is a funnier version, though.
- Time for Tea
– rhymes with 83. Other option – “Fat Lady with a Flee” as 3 is sometimes referred to as “One Little Flee”.
- Seven Dozen
– 12 x 7 = 84.
- Staying Alive
– rhymes with 85.
- Between the Sticks
– rhymes with 86 and refers to the goalie’s position.
- Torquay in Devon
– rhymes with 87 and refers to Torquay County in Devon.
- Two Fat Ladies
– number 8 is also referred to as “One Fat Lady”, which is why 88 is called “Two Fat Ladies” or “Wobbly Wobbly”.
- Nearly There
– or “All but One”, as 89 is as close to the final number 90 as it gets.
- Top of the Shop
– the highest Bingo number.
Reason for These Bingo Calls
We’ve already given some reasons as to why these nicknames came into being, such as them deriving from secret messages, however there’s more to these calls than this. Furthermore, the reasons why each call is associated with a number provides an interesting history, covering that of rhymes, the shape of the number themselves, and history. Just like with the individual nicknames, there’s a lot of ground to cover here, and so we’ll try and provide the information as concisely as possible. Please note when reading through this article, that different regions may have altered the calls slightly to suit their audiences, and so you may not see an exact call detailed that you’ve heard before.
One of the chief reasons for funny bingo calls can be traced back to the 1950s and 60s, with the names used simply having sticked since around that time. The main reason for this has been attributed by the fact that bingo was at its most popular during this time, and so the nicknames given out firmly became part of the scene, and have continued to do so ever since. Given the basis for the name we’re going to touch upon, it stands to reason that they could easily be updated with more relevant terms currently in use. However, to do this would arguably take away from the heritage of this game, and so it’s up for debate whether a change in names is worthwhile.
- Number 39, Steps – This number was chosen in relation to Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, a thriller that came out in 1935. True, this has aged the game dramatically, as the younger generations may not have heard of the film, and yet it’s such a popular call that it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.
- Number 10, Cameron’s Den – Related to (you’ve guessed it) number 10 Downing Street, this is used when the number 10 comes up; you may hear other ex Prime Ministers being used, such as Thatcher and Blair. That being said, Cameron is the most widely used nowadays.
- Number 30, Dirty Gertie – As for this number call, it dates back to World War 2, back when the soldiers sang naughty songs about “Dirty Gertie from Bizerte”. Even if you don’t value the history of its origins, there’s no denying that this bingo call fits the number 30 perfectly, and is sure to get a load of laughs.
Another way that these calls have been created is from the simple fact that the numbers rhyme with a word or two, and so it’s logically to use them for a nickname. This is by far the most simplest of the explanations for the bingo calls, but by no means any less interesting. Just as with the historical rationale, we’re going to draw attention to three of the most commonly used rhyming bingo bynames.
- Number 51, Tweak of the Thumb – There’s not a lot of reasoning behind this example, other than it easily rolls off of the tongue. What is more, you may have heard number 51 being linked to another saying of “I love my mum”; that doesn’t seem to work as well, but due to regional implications, it has been used by halls for decades.
- Number 62, Tickety Boo – For those of you not familiar with English slang, this phrase is a way of saying that something, be it an item or experience, is in good working order. Also, it’s worth noting that 62 also has the call of “turn the screw”, though again, this depends on whereabouts you’re playing.
- Number 17, Dancing Queen – This number call likely doesn’t need any explanation, as the vast majority of you will be familiar with the famous ABBA song, Dancing Queen, regardless of whether you’re a fan. As far as we’re aware, there’s no regional variations of this bingo call.
Numbers Shape Reasons
The last explanation we’re going to draw upon is that of the shapes of the numbers. Unlike with the rhyming and historical links, calls determined by the shape of numbers tend to not be as funny, nor have the same level of reach as with other nicknames. A possible reason for this is that only a select few numbers have unique shapes (alone or placed together), and so the range of creativity is limited.
- Number 11, Legs 11 – Much like the two fat ladies phrase, legs 11 is a straight forward call, based on the fact that the number looks like a pair of long legs. Over the years, this bingo call has been called into question, as it’s been argued as sexist, with those adding to that idea (such as wolf whistling) being removed from the bingo hall.
- Number 22, Two Little Ducks – Last on this rundown is the number 22, another obvious call thanks to the appearance of the numbers; it’s easy to see two ducks swimming side by side, and so the associated imagery has stayed. Given the popularity of this byname, we doubt it’ll be changed any time soon.