The Origins Of The Most Popular Bingo Calls


Posted: November 11, 2023

Updated: November 11, 2023

Bingo is the quintessentially English game, more often played by the working classes of yore. Over time, a kind of short-hand developed for the callers when calling out the numbers of the balls. These often included a form of rhyming slang based on all sorts of factors, from the look of the numbers to their historical influences.

If you’re new to the world of bingo, you might have anticipated a simple affair where bingo numbers are announced, and players, armed with their daubers, listen attentively. Fortunately, both traditional and online bingo offers much more than that, attracting approximately 1.6 billion players annually. Over the years, just as with the chants at football matches, a myriad of popular bingo calls and sayings have emerged from bingo halls worldwide.

Some of these were crafted with clever rhymes, while others found inspiration in the unique shapes of numbers, and some even hold historical significance. Regardless of their origin, all these traditional calls are celebrated for infusing a delightful quirkiness into this beloved pastime.

Even if you consider yourself a seasoned bingo player with a firm grasp of the classic bingo terminology, it’s a good time to update your knowledge. With the rise of online bingo’s convenience and accessibility, some of the best online bingo sites in the UK, like Bet365 Bingo, are drawing players from various ages and backgrounds. For these new players, there’s a new set of modern popular bingo calls to acquaint yourself with. So now’s your opportunity to become a master of bingo lingo! Continue reading our comprehensive list of popular bingo calls, covering a mix of beloved classics and contemporary additions.

Bingo Rhymes For Calls

  • Three = Cup of Tea

A charming rhyme that highlights the quintessential bingo beverage.

  • Six = Tom Mix
popular bingo calls
Picture Source: Pxhere

A nod to Tom Mix, the iconic US Western film star with over 200 movies to his name.

  • 10 = Sunak’s Den

A reference to the UK Prime Minister’s residence at Number 10 Downing Street, with the rhyme evolving with each new prime minister.

  • 17 = Dancing Queen

Popular bingo calls that pay playful homage to Abba’s timeless hit, “Dancing Queen.”

  • 28 = In a State

A rhyming call with a touch of Cockney slang, where “He was in a right two and eight” means “He was in a poor state.”

  • 38 = Christmas Cake

More cockney rhyming slang.

A rhyme about the ever-popular bear.

  • 51 = I Love My Mum

An endearing tribute to mothers, alternatively expressed as “Tweak of the Thumb” in different parts of the world.

popular bingo calls
Picture Source: Flickr
  • 63 = Tickle Me

A cheeky little rhyme.

  • 87 = Torquay in Devon

A nice geography rhyme from the South of England.

Popular Bingo Calls Inspired By Number Shapes

  • Two = One Little Duck

This whimsical saying originates from the resemblance of the number two to a little duck. Naturally, 22 is known as “two little ducks” in bingo.

  • 11 = Legs Eleven

Popular bingo calls that recognize the number 11’s similarity to two legs.

  • 25 = Duck and Dive

A seemingly simple rhyme, this call reflects the shapes of the numbers. The number two resembles a duck, and the number five resembles a snake – a creature people would typically avoid by diving.

  • 69 = Either Way Up

This call cleverly maintains its readability whether it’s right-side-up or upside-down.

Bingo Calls With Historical References

  • One = Kelly’s Eye

A nod to Ned Kelly, the Australian outlaw believed to be one-eyed.

  • 21 = Royal Salute

A tribute to the 21-gun salute that occurs during royal ceremonies.

  • 56 = Was She Worth It?

Harking back to the days when a marriage licence cost five shillings and sixpence, with women typically responding with “Every penny!”

Milestone Popular Bingo Calls

  • Seven = Lucky 7

The number seven is known for its association with luck, from the seven days of the week to its symbolic completeness in the Bible.

  • 16 = Sweet Sixteen

Celebrating the “sweet sixteen” milestone in a person’s life.

  • 45 = Halfway There

Since 90-ball bingo features 90 numbers, 45 signifies the halfway point.

  • 65 = Old Age Pension

Reflecting the retirement age in most countries, when people usually qualify for a pension.

  • 89 = Nearly There
popular bingo calls
Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons

With 89 being just one number away from 90, it’s aptly described as “nearly there.”

  • 90 = As Far As We Go

The highest number, also known as the “Top of the Shop.”

Popular Calls That Are Modern

  • One = One Direction

In modern bingo circles, this call references the award-winning British boy band, One Direction.

  • Six = Little Mix

A contemporary rhyming bingo call in the UK inspired by the popular British girl band, Little Mix.

A nod to the legendary footballer who famously wore the number seven throughout his career.

  • Eight = Tinder Date

A clever rhyme inspired by the well-known dating app, Tinder.

  • 11 = Eyebrows on Fleek

Reflecting the current makeup trend of perfectly groomed eyebrows, replacing “Legs 11” for younger players.

  • 32 = Jimmy Choo
popular bingo calls
Picture Source: Flickr

This simple rhyme references the renowned high-end shoe designer.

  • 48 = Tag a Mate

Easily understood by anyone with a social media presence.

  • 53 = Here Comes Herbie

A reference to the iconic VW Beetle named Herbie, known for its racing number 53 in the Disney franchise.

  • 85 = Staying alive

A catchy Bee Gees rhyme. 

  • 88 = Wills and Kate

A royal-themed rhyme celebrating Prince William and Princess Kate.

Other Intriguing Bingo Calls

While many popular bingo calls are rooted in rhyming slang, there are also those that evoke popular associations with specific numbers, and even some more obscure references: 

For example, “39 Steps” alludes to John Buchan’s 1915 novel ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps,’ which has served as the inspiration for numerous feature films. And when it comes to number 78 – “39 more steps” – it’s merely another playful twist on this esoteric literary connection. Perhaps you find “Brighton Line” a bit cryptic? Consider number 56 – “Shotts Bus,” a reference likely less familiar to those outside of Scotland. According to online bingo news in the UK, the number 56 corresponds to a former bus route from Glasgow to the town of Shotts in North Lanarkshire.

Then there are the visually inspired number references, like the iconic “legs eleven,” “two little ducks,” and the ever-recognizable number 88, which bears a resemblance to “two fat ladies.” Not to forget the playful counterparts for numbers 81 and 82, often referred to as the “fat lady with a walking stick/duck.”

Play Bingo Online With Bovada Casino

Unfortunately, many online casinos don’t make use of these colourful phrases. Though we think the greater use of popular bingo calls would add some fun into the game, most online casinos just show the numbers with no commentary. Nevertheless, whether you prefer 75-ball bingo or want to put your newfound knowledge of bingo terms to use in 90-ball bingo, you should always opt to play at Bet365 Bingo! Alongside classic online bingo games and online bingo slots, they also offer an array of casino table games, online slots, arcade games, live dealer games, and more.

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