During bingo games at offline venues, the caller will usually announce the number along with its nickname and in many cases, players respond with a related reply, eg. Legs Eleven (number 11) is usually followed by wolf whistles!
Bingo lingo is both bizarre and fascinating at the same time, with many of the number nicknames actually dating back many decades, making them quirky markers of cultural history. And don’t think these curious catchphrases are restricted to land-based bingo venues – most online bingo sites use them too!
Grab a cuppa and settle in for a little exploration of bingo lingo!
Bingo Calls: Become an Expert in No Time
Curious about these bizarre bingo number nicknames? Already know a few and want to check out the rest? Here’s our definitive guide to bingo lingo, starting with a few of the most popular and widely known terms. Once you’ve got your head around those, dive right into the entire 90-ball bingo lingo dictionary and prepare to impress your bingo buddies during your next session!
The Most Popular Bingo Words
Let’s get started with 5 of the most well-known bingo lingo terms. These number nicknames are so popular that they’ve spread beyond the boundaries of the game of bingo itself and are mentioned by people and in cultural works where there’s often no knowledge of its origins or reference to the game whatsoever!
One Little Duck – 2
Though you may already be familiar with ‘two little ducks’ (22), a single number 2 is represented by the phrase ‘one little duck‘. The lingo comes from the shape of the number 2, which, if you use your imagination, kind of resembles a duck, especially one that’s partially submerged in water (think of the top arc of the 2 being the duck’s head and the rest being the front of its body). Players respond to this call with a ‘quack’.
The origins of why the number 7 is deemed lucky are unclear, but you can look back many hundreds of years and find references to fortune and reverence that’s linked to the number. God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, there are 7 days in a week, 7 continents, 7 is the most number of things we can accurately remember, it’s a prime number and it apparently represents perfection or completeness. Ian Fleming chose 007 for his hit spy character James Bond because it ‘looked good’! Whatever the reason, 7 is called Lucky 7 when it comes up in bingo.
Buckle My Shoe – 32
You might remember ‘buckle my shoe’ from the age-old nursery rhyme and counting song that actually dates back as far as the 1700s! However, it’s not 1 and 2 that are linked to this phrase, but 3 and 2, namely 32. Why? As is the case with a lot of bingo lingo, rhyme plays a lead role here, with the words thirty-two bearing some rhythmic resemblance to ‘buckle my shoe’.
Staying Alive – 85
Another well-known bingo call that finds its origins in rhyme is 85 – Staying alive. Why it’s 85 and not any of the other 6 numbers ending in 5 with the same rhythmical cadence, we have no idea!
Two Fat Ladies – 88
Perhaps one of the most well-known bingo lingo terms is a little bit on the personal side (although not the most personal, see 69 below!). Whenever the bingo caller announces 88, it is almost always following or followed by ‘two fat ladies‘. Why? Because the number 8 looks a bit like a plump lady, with the top o being the head and the larger bottom o looking like the body. And since there are two 8s in 88, there are two fat ladies! Can you guess what 8 is in bingo lingo? Check below to see if you’re right!
Full List of British Bingo Nicknames
Now that you’ve had a taste of a few of the most popular bingo lingo terms, we know you’re dying to see the rest! So here is the full whack of British bingo number nicknames – a bingo lingo dictionary, if you like! These weird and wonderful wordings range from the historical to the ridiculous and everything in between. Some numbers even have several nicknames!
Bookmark this page so you can check back to our Bingo Lingo Dictionary whenever you need to:
- 1 Kelly’s eye
- 2 One little duck
- 3 Cup of tea
- 4 Knock at the door
- 5 Man alive
- 6 Half a dozen/Tom Mix
- 7 Lucky
- 8 Garden gate/One Fat Lady
- 9 Brighton line/Doctor’s orders
- 10 Rishi’s (or current UK prime minister’s) den
- 11 Legs eleven
- 12 One dozen
- 13 Unlucky for some
- 14 Valentine’s Day
- 15 Young and keen/Groovy Scene
- 16 Never been kissed/Sweet 16
- 17 Dancing Queen
- 18 Coming of age/The Vampire’s Dream
- 19 Goodbye teens
- 20 One score
- 21 Key of the door/Royal salute
- 22 Two little ducks
- 23 The Lord is My Shepherd/Lisa Scott-Lee/Thee and me
- 24 Two dozen
- 25 Duck and dive
- 26 Half a crown/Pick and mix
- 27 Duck and a crutch/Gateway to Heaven
- 28 In a state/Overweight
- 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 Life begins/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 It’s a bullseye!/5 – 0, 5 – 0, it’s off to work we go/Half a century
- 51 Tweak of the thumb
- 52 Danny La Rue/Chicken vindaloo/Deck of cards/Weeks in a year
- 53 Here comes Herbie!/Stuck in the tree
- 54 Man at the door/Clean the floor
- 55 All the fives/Snakes alive
- 56 Shotts bus/Was she worth it?
- 57 Heinz varieties
- 58 Make them wait
- 59 Brighton line
- 60 Grandma’s getting frisky/Five dozen
- 61 Bakers bun
- 62 Tickety-boo/Turn the screw
- 63 Tickle me
- 64 Almost retired/Red raw
- 65 Retirement age, stop work/Old age pension
- 66 Clickety click
- 67 Stairway to Heaven/Made in Heaven
- 68 Pick a mate/Saving grace
- 69 Any way up/Either way up/Meal for two/A favourite of mine
- 70 Three score and 10
- 71 Bang on the drum/J.Lo’s bum
- 72 Danny La Rue/Six dozen
- 73 Queen bee/Under the tree/Lucky 3
- 74 Hit the floor/Candy store
- 75 Strive and strive
- 76 Trombones
- 77 Two little crutches/Sunset Strip
- 78 39 more steps/Heaven’s gate
- 79 One more time
- 80 Gandhi’s breakfast/Eight and blank
- 81 Fat lady with a walking stick/Stop and run
- 82 Straight on through
- 83 Time for tea
- 84 Give me more
- 85 Staying alive
- 86 Between the sticks
- 87 Torquay in Devon
- 88 Two fat ladies
- 89 Nearly there/Almost there
- 90 Top of the shop
How did bingo names originate?
While some bingo lingo is so out there that its history can’t really be traced, a lot of the bingo nicknames that are used today find their origins as far back as World War 2. Back then, British soldiers played Housey Housey (old name for bingo) during their downtime and many created nicknames for the numbers to make the game more entertaining.
After the war was over, bingo began to explode in popularity, as did the trend of nicknaming the numbers. Today, a lot of the original terms remain. A few new ones have been introduced over time, reflecting changes in culture and society. For example, in the early 2000s, holiday camp company Butlins introduced new bingo lingo as a way to freshen up the game and entice a new generation of players. Meanwhile, the number 10 is always updated to reflect the current British prime minister, eg. Rishi’s den used to be Boris’ den (actually Truss’ den, but we don’t talk about that!).
While many bingo lingo terms have historical and cultural references, others are just downright weird and exist only because they rhyme with the numbers they represent! But that’s all part of the fun of bingo, isn’t it?
Do I Need to Know Bingo Nicknames?
If, after reading through that awesome array of bingo nicknames, you’re a little taken aback by this ‘insider jargon’ and thinking maybe this isn’t the game for you, think again! Thankfully, you don’t need to know any of these terms to be able to play bingo. Bingo callers are an inclusive bunch and will always call the numbers along with their bingo lingo terms, so everyone is on the same page. Sometimes the number comes first, sometimes it’s the phrase followed by the number. Either way, you’ll never miss a call. You’ll never miss a match either, as long as you keep your eyes down!
Where Can I Play Bingo Online?
As mentioned before, bingo lingo is traditionally used in bingo halls, but it also has a place in online bingo. Quite often, you’ll find it in the chat as players proudly show off their bingo lingo knowledge, while chat hosts use it to stir up excitement or create side games. If all this bingo lingo talk has given you a whole new interest in the game, or you’re keen to try it for the very first time, you’re in the perfect place to find the ideal site at which to play!
Online Bingo City is dedicated to sifting through the hundreds of online bingo sites currently in operation to reveal the ones with the best games, biggest bonuses and hottest perks. We’ve done all the hard work so you don’t have to! Take advantage – check out our detailed bingo site reviews and choose one that ranks well and suits you best!