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Bingo terminology: the weird and wonderful rhymes explained

Bingo terminology: the weird and wonderful rhymes explained

Bingo terminology dates back to what is known as “the Golden Age” of Bingo in the UK. After the Second World War, the game of Bingo rose in popularity quicker than ever before – and saw the birth of creative stories and rhymes – a bit like Cockney rhyming slang – to make the game even more amusing.

Sometimes the rhymes or sayings injected before the numbers are relatively simple, for example: “lucky” refers to the number seven because it is often considered to be just that.

Read on to learn some more of the weird and wonderful Bingo calls, so that next time you’re playing the game, you can try and decipher the hidden meanings behind them – or, you could play Bingo online at to brush up on your skills before you master the calls.


Number one is often known as “Kelly’s eye”, originating from military slang, and is said to be a reference to Ned Kelly’s helmet, where the eye slot resembled the number one.


Two – “one little duck”. The visual number ‘2’ looks a little bit like a duck.

Bonus Fact: All the Twos

‘22’ is often referred to as “two little ducks” and ‘25’ as duck and dive, as the number five appears to be an upside-down duck, diving into the water. It also rhymes.

Three and Four

Number three is “cup of tea”, because it rhymes (and it’s very British), and number four is known as a “knock at the door”, inspired by the nursery rhyme “one, two, buckle my shoe; three, four, knock at the door”. This nursery rhyme has also been adapted for horror movies, but don’t worry – nothing about this Bingo terminology is designed to be scary. 


Number five is “man alive”, purely because it rhymes, and “half a dozen” six is also sometimes known as “Tom Mix”, which is Cockney rhyming slang.

Seven, Eight, Nine

With number 7 deemed “lucky” and “garden gate” rhyming with eight, number nine is often known as the “Brighton Line” – inspired by the British railway, or most commonly, “Doctor’s orders”, as ‘Number nine’ was the name of a laxative pill given out by army doctors during the war.

Ten and Eleven

Number ten refers to “(whomever is living at Downing Street)’s den”, as we know, the British Prime Minister lives at number ten – and “legs eleven” often acquires a wolf whistle response from the audience, as ‘11’ looks like a pair of legs.

Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen  

With “one dozen” being another way to say 12, and 13 deemed “unlucky for some” – 14 is named after the famous February holiday, “Valentine’s Day”.

Fifteen, Sixteen

15 is “young and keen” and if a “never been kissed” 16 is called then it references the song ‘Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed’, or is modernised as “sweet sixteen”, to refer to the birthday celebrations of that age.

Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen

Number 17 features ABBA’s hit song “dancing queen”, and turning 18 means “coming of age”. 19 is “goodbye teens”.Twenty

 20 is known as “one score”, as a group of 20 units if often referred to as a score.

And the calls continue…

The numbers don’t stop there, and over the years, some calls have been changed and adapted as generations have developed different views. Terms like “two fat ladies” for 88, is often up for debate, despite being one of the most well-known Bingo calls. Terms like “recycle more” for 74 are seeing a rise, and with up to 90 numbers to play with, Bingo callers now use terms – old and new – to continue to draw in players and make gameplay even more exciting.

Speaking of the excitement of a Bingo hall – not only can you now play online, but you can bring the whole experience home with access to the popular slot machine games that make the trip so unique. The Fluffy Favourites slot game is not only available at physical Bingo halls, but can now be played online. So, the next time you’re playing, why not pay extra special attention to the Bingo caller, and see if you can unearth the mysteries surrounding the rest of the wonderful calls – and if you just can’t wait that long – then you can play online whilst you wait!