07th Oct2019

Meanings Behind the Bingo Numbers

by James Smith

If you’ve ever been to a bingo hall, you’ll notice there’s a lot of rhyming slang and other colloquialisms that are slightly confusing. Although some of the nicknames for the numbers have changed over time, some are still as confusing as ever.

We’ve ventured into the world of bingo to discover not only what these complex nicknames are, but what they mean and where they originate from. Then, when you’re ready to head out to your local bingo hall or check out bingo online, you can test your knowledge! You can find some real money bingo games that have modern bingo calls too, see if you can spot these classics in your next game!


Number 1 – Kelly’s Eye

Perhaps one of the most difficult number origins to trace, but all references suggest it comes from old military slang. The outlaw Ned Kelly wore a helmet which had one eyehole band across the face. Hence his helmet is known for having only one eye, and therefore number 1, Kelly’s Eye.

Number 6 – Tom Mix

Although some people may use the updated version of ‘Half a Dozen’, ‘Tom Mix’ is still the traditional call for number 6. Tom Mix was a star of silent-era Westerns, also known as ‘talkies’.

Number 9 – Doctors Orders

During WWII, doctors used to give soldiers a laxative pill, also known as ‘Number 9’. The tablets were given this name because, in a Field Medical Planner, they were number 9 in the contents list. Soldiers would swallow the pills to try and flush out any illnesses they were suffering.

Number 14 – The Lawnmower

This number is perhaps more straight-forward than it may seem. The first lawnmower had a 14-inch blade.

Number 20 – One score

This reference dates back to the early 1100s when shepherds would count their sheep and cattle manually. Shepherds would count to 20 and then make a mark or a score on a stick, before counting the next 20.

Number 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd

The first words of Psalm 23 from the Old Testament of the Bible. A variation of this Psalm was also the end credit music to the popular TV show with Dawn French, The Vicar of Dibley.

Number 26 – A to Z

Referring to the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

Number 50 – It’s a bullseye!

On a dartboard, the bullseye is worth 50 points.

Number 57 – Heinz Varieties

The popular foods company, Heinz, make all sorts of products, originally 57. The next time you purchase a bottle, see if you can spot it. Another tip is that by hitting the number 57 as you try and pour from a bottle, it will come out faster.

Number 65 – Stop work

This number refers to the nation stopping work at the age of 65, which was the former national retirement age in the UK.

Number 76 – Trombones/was she worth it?

The number 76 has two obscure calls. The first is about the popular marching song in the musical The Music Man, which is titled ‘Seventy-Six Trombones’. The second meaning is the pre-decimal price of a marriage license in the UK.

Number 80 – Gandhi’s breakfast

When said as individual numbers, 8 and 0, the numbers sound like the words “ate” and “nothing”. When Gandhi used to fast he would eat nothing for breakfast, hence the term Gandhi’s breakfast for number 80.

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