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A quick and easy guide to bingo lingo

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A quick and easy guide to bingo lingo


Published by D Brown for Brett Janes in Communities

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One of the most well-known aspects of playing bingo is the terminology or lingo involved. You’ve no doubt heard a few of them before, but there are probably many more than you first realised. Some are simple rhyming slang-esque concoctions, whilst others have a bit of story behind them. There are also some that have arisen due to the growth of online bingo.

More are added all the time and some are being replaced, but here are some of the more interesting bingo calls and where the call originated from…

Number 1 – Kelly’s eye

We’re starting on a somewhat ambiguous note here. No-one’s really sure what this refers to. Some believe it’s a reference to Australian gangster Ned Kelly who wore a home-made helmet with a singular slot for his eyes, whilst some think it could be an army reference, as at one point bingo was the only game allowed in the army and it was the soldier who, for some reason, gave it the name.

Number 6 – Tom Mix

This is a simple rhyme, but the name is actually a reference to an actor who starred in silent-era westerns.

Number 9 – Doctor’s Orders

This isn’t the nicest of bingo calls! Number 9 was apparently the name of a laxative pill given to soldiers during World War II.



Number 10 – David’s Den

The call for number 10 actually changes often, as the name refers to the current UK Prime Minister. This example is therefore referring to David Cameron, but will likely change in a couple of years.

Number 11 – Legs

Not rocket science, this one. It came about because the number 11 looks like a pair of legs, and is often humorously followed by wolf whistles from the bingo-goers.


Number 14 – The lawnmower

This is one of the more obscure calls, allegedly coming about because the original lawnmower had a 14-inch blade.


Number 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd

Unsurprisingly, this is a biblical reference, with this phrase being the first words of Psalm 23 in the Old Testament.

Number 30 – Dirty Gertie

This is another simple rhyme, but the reference apparently comes from the name Gertrude which was given to the statue La Delivrance.

Number 53 – Here comes Herbie

Herbie the VW Beetle has the racing number 53. This is sometimes followed by a ‘beep beep’ call from players.

Number 54 – The house with the bamboo door

This comes from a lyric from the Andy Williams song, ‘The House of Bamboo’:

“Number fifty-four,
The house with the bamboo door,
Bamboo roof and bamboo walls,
They've even got a bamboo floor!”

Number 56 – Shott’s bus

This is an apparent reference to the number of a bus that used to run in Scotland from Glasgow to Shotts.

Number 76 – Trombones/Was she worth it?

Number 76 has a couple of interesting calls. ‘Trombones’ is a reference to a popular marching song from the musical ‘The Music Man’ called ‘Seventy-Six Trombones’.

‘Was she worth it?’ is an excellent call, referring to the pre-decimal price of a marriage licence in Britian – 7/6d. The players then may call out ‘every penny!’ in response. Banter.

Number 80 – Ghandi’s breakfast

This is an odd one. If you imagine you’re looking from above, this would apparently resemble someone sitting in front of an empty plate. Not the best on the list!

Number 83 – Stop farting!

This is another bizarre one. The 8 is apparently a bottom, whilst the 3 is a gust of wind. Not totally sure who came up with this one!

There are plenty of others where the origin of the call is unknown, such as ’86 – between the sticks’, and there are also some that have come about due the rising popularity of online bingo. If you go on sites such as Bright Bingo, then you may well come across some interesting language in the chat rooms.

It comes from text language, so some terms such as ‘brb’ for ‘be right back’ may be familiar to you, but there are also some that may be new to you. For example ‘gg’ means ‘good game’, whilst ‘gla’ means ‘good luck all’.

So there we go. Next time you hear some of these calls, you’ll know what they mean and can maybe even impress some of your fellow bingo players.


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