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Bingo lingo

Bingo is a game steeped in British tradition, a large part of which is related to the assorted rhymes and cultural or historical references that have, over time, linked themselves to each of those magical numbers from 1 to 90.

Changing times have seen some of the slightly more aged references pushed to the sidelines – it’s not often now you’ll hear the likes of the silent-era western star Tom Mix (6) mentioned, or popular drag artiste Danny La Rue (72). And whilst ‘jump and jive’ (35) may still pop up from time to time, it’s unlikely that those more used to the world of free no deposit bingo will know that it relates to a popular dance step from yesteryear.

In 2003, UK holiday resorts made a conscious effort to modernise the slang used in the game by introducing some up-to-date rhymes and references. ‘J-Lo’s bum’ replaced a decidedly-less cheeky ‘bang the drum’ for 71, and ‘buckle my shoe’ was swapped in some circles for the Sex and the City girls’ favourite shoe designer ‘Jimmy Choo’.

Other changes introduced at the time, such as Gareth Gates for number 8 and Ali G for number 30, already seem fairly dated and are unlikely to be found in use by many – if any – bingo callers.

However, some terms have outlived change, and seem as old as the game itself. It’s hard to imagine the game of bingo without the cry of ‘legs 11’ (a reference to the resemblance of the digits to a pair of legs) or ‘two little ducks’ for 22 (owing to their resemblance...oh you get the idea!).

In more politically-correct times, those calling bingo in the UK might now get a little red faced when shouting ‘two fat ladies’ at the top of their lungs, while the call of ‘sweet 16 – never been kissed’ will sound a little, ahem, unlikely to some. However, tradition often prevails over change, so that while the inhabitants of Downing Street will inevitably change every so often, someone’s ‘den’ will almost always be referenced when the number 10 comes out!

At a time when bingo in the UK has taken terrific steps forward, welcoming millions of new players eager to take advantage of online offers such as free no deposit bingo all the time, it says much about the longevity of the game itself that callers around the country are still using the ever-popular calls made famous over the decades. They’ve become as much a part of the fantastic game itself as the numbers themselves.

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