Bingo Calls

Updated October 26, 2023
All you ever wanted to know about UK bingo calls and their funny names! If you’ve ever played land-based bingo you’ll be familiar with the concept of bingo calls and the fact that many have them have funny phrases that are associated with them.
Bingo Calls

Where do Bingo calls come from?

These are the quirky and often completely incomprehensible rhymes or phrases that come after the numbers. While they might sound random, bingo call nicknames actually go back a long way, originating from cockney rhyming slang. As well as livening up the average game, bingo calls also help avoid misunderstandings between numbers that might otherwise sound similar by offering extra clarification between say, 29 and 25.

The history of bingo calls

Bingo calls originated in the UK in the 1950s and many of them are believed to have been taken from a 1930s army game known as Housey-Housey. This explains why so many bingo calls have military references attached. Of course over the years they have been added to and changed, and there are multiple different calls for many of the numbers.

Being a bingo caller takes a great deal of skill and knowledge of the different bingo calls. In the 1960s there were even celebrity bingo callers and a Bingo Caller of the Year competition that ran all the way up until 2007. Virtual bingo callers are still present at most online bingo sites and if you go to a bricks and mortar bingo hall you’ll be sure to find a caller presiding over the action there.

 Bingo calls are constantly evolving, and they often vary between different regions and areas. Sometimes they rhyme with the numbers they represent, or they can describe the appearance of the numbers (for example Legs 11 (11) or Two Fat Ladies (88)).

Here are some of our favourite bingo calls that you will probably come across in your land-based and online bingo adventures:

7 – Lucky seven: Traditionally, the number seven has always been considered lucky.

11 – Legs eleven: The number 11 could be said to resemble a pair of legs.

13 – Unlucky for some: The number 13 is traditionally considered to be unlucky.

14 – Valentine’s day: This one is fairly self-explanatory as Valentine’s day is on February 14th.

16 – Sweet sixteen: 16 is a significant birthday for most teenagers.

18 – Coming of age: 18 is when people in the UK officially become adults.

22 – Two little ducks: The number two somewhat resembles a duck, therefore 22 is like two ducks.

25 – Duck and dive: This is a combination of the two that looks like a duck and the five that looks like a snake (therefore you would want to dive out of the way)

30 – Dirty Gertie: A popular culture reference from World War 2. “Dirty Gertie from Bizerte” was a rather crude song sung by the soldiers.

Bingo Calls

42 – Winnie the pooh: This one is an example of rhyming slang with reference to the loveable character created by A.A. Milne

44 – Droopy drawers: This one is partly rhyming slang and partly a visual representation of the number four, which is considered to look like baggy underwear.

50 – Half a century: Fifty years is indeed half a century.

65 – Old age pension: 65 is traditionally the age when a person can start to collect their pension.

69 – Either way up: This call plays on the fact that the number 69 is the same if you turn it upside down.

77 – Double hockey sticks: This is a play on the fact that a seven looks a bit like an upside-down hockey stick.

88 – Two fat ladies: The number eight is often referred to as resembling a curvy female figure. Therefore 88 is likened to two amply proportioned ladies.

90 – Top of the shop: This is a reference to the fact that 90 is the highest number (in 90-ball bingo anyway!).

Bingo calls add a great sense of fun and entertainment to the online bingo experience. Once you understand the calls you can enjoy the game even more (and have a bit of a laugh at the same time).

Bingo calls around the world

While the majority of bingo calls originate from the UK and are used around the world, the US, in particular, has put its own spin on a number of them. As the favoured form of bingo in the US is 75-ball, the format of the tickets that are used in US games are displayed differently from the ones that we use for 90-ball bingo. On a 75-ball ticket, there are 5 columns labelled B, I, N, G, and O. Column B contains numbers from 1 to 15; Column I contains numbers from 16-30; Column N contains numbers from 31 to 45; Column G contains numbers from 46 to 60, and Column O contains numbers from 61-75. When numbers are announced, they are preceded by the column letter to avoid confusion and to enable players to locate the numbers of their tickets faster, e.g. B2 and I65. This means that some of the bingo calls that American players have adopted have been altered too.

Bingo Calls 44
  • B-1 Baby of Bingo: We can only assume that “baby of bingo” is used for number one as it’s the smallest number in 75-ball bingo.
  • B-4 And After: “And after” is shouted out by players following the number 4, the call for which sounds like “before”, hence “before…and after”.
  • B-6 Tom Mix: A movie star from silent movies
  • B-8 Harry Tate: Early film star and music hall comedian
  • B-12 The vitamin number: Vitamin B12 is required by the human body to form red blood cells. It also helps to produce DNA and maintain normal brain function.
  • N-39 Jack Benny: A US comedian who was popular in the 50s and 60s. His signature joke was that he was always 39 years old.
  • N-42 The Street in Manhattan: This was named after the 1933 movie called 42nd Street
  • N-45 Cowboy’s Friend: Named after a Colt 45 revolver
  • G-50 Hawaii 5-0: This was a US police drama in the 1970s
  • G-55 Double Nickel: “Double nickel” is trucker slang for the number 55, and it refers to the national speed limit of 55 MPH that was introduced in the USA in 1974.
  • O-75 Big Daddy: This is the highest number in American Bingo, hence the name.

Most bingo callers have their own variations and combinations of bingo calls so there’s always something new to learn.

The future of bingo calls

With new calls being created all the time, it’s likely we’ll see them evolve many times over as new popular culture references and younger generations make their mark on the world of bingo, both online and offline. There is also the possibility, however, that the skill of the bingo call and knowing their nicknames might be a dying art. Political correctness and the smooth flow of a call, like 4 and 9  – 49, or 3 and 1 – 31, seems to be more attractive to the bingo software developers than maintaining a piece of bingo history.

New bingo calls

As bingo calls are an evolving language of their own, there are some newer calls that are based on modern popular culture. These bingo calls appeal to a younger audience and in many ways are a product of the more youthful demographic that online bingo appeals to. Some of these newer bingo calls are a little controversial but many of them are hilarious and highly entertaining. Most of them take a rhyming approach so they are easy to understand.

Here are a few of our favourite modern bingo calls:

6 – Little Mix

8 – Tinder date

17 – Selfie queen

Bingo Calls 22

22 – I don’t know about you: after a Taylor Swift song named 22.

24 – Lads on tour

25 – Adele: named after her third hit album

27 – Hipster heaven

32 – Jimmy Choo

48 – Tag a mate

69 – Netflix and Chill

71 – J-Lo’s Bum

Social media inspired bingo calls

Modern bingo calls wouldn’t be complete without some reference to social media terms and slang:

Social bingo calls

WhichBingo complete list of UK Bingo Calls:

  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. Downing Street
  11. Legs eleven
  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. Key of the door
  22. Two little ducks
  23. Thee and me
  24. Two dozen
  25. Duck and dive
  26. Pick and mix
  27. Gateway to heaven
  28. In a state
  29. Rise and shine
  30. Dirty Gertie
  31. Get up and run
  32. Buckle my shoe
  33. Dirty knee/All the threes
  34. Ask for more
  35. Jump and jive
  36. Three dozen
  37. More than eleven
  38. Christmas cake
  39. 39 steps
  40. Life begins
  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 a 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. Baker’s bun
  62. Turn on the screw
  63. Tickle me 63
  64. Red raw
  65. Old-age pension
  66. Clickety click
  67. Stairway to heaven
  68. Saving Grace
  69. Either way up
  70. Three score and ten
  71. Bang on the drum
  72. Six dozen
  73. Queen bee
  74. Candy Store
  75. Strive and strive
  76. Trombones
  77. Sunset strip
  78. Heavens 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
Better change
Anita Heffernan Whichbingo Author

Author And Contributing Editor

Anita Heffernan

Anita is a well-known bingo-lover and has been involved with online bingo since the late 1990’s. She has been along for the ride and seen the industry grow and develop into what it is today. She has worked with the biggest names in the industry and has a reputation for being fair and to the point in her writing.