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What Is The History Behind Bingo Numbe...

Oct 25, 2022

Have you ever wondered what the history behind bingo numbers is? What do some of those strange rhymes from the bingo callers actually mean? 

Some people even have favorite bingo numbers that they would prefer to use and buy bingo cards to reflect this, but for those who are less superstitious among us then the bingo calling numbers are just an interesting quirk. Whether you are playing British bingo or American bingo, we’re going to delve into the story of some of the bingo numbers and the “nicknames” they have adopted over the years.

7 (Lucky Seven)

This one doesn’t take too much explaining. In a lot of parts of the world, the number seven is considered to be lucky, including in the game of Craps which places a high value on rolling a seven. 

9 (Doctor’s Orders)

This is a weirder nickname for one of the numbers, used largely in the UK. The number nine also happened to be a tablet given to soldiers who were suffering from constipation during the world wars. 

11 (Legs)

Legs 11 is one of the simpler ones, the number when written in its numerical form, of course, looks like a pair of legs if you use your imagination. One of the best-known nicknames for bingo numbers.

16 (Sweet Sixteen)

This term is used for many other purposes such as the famously extravagant sixteenth birthday party but is also used in bingo.

18 (Coming of Age)

Considered in a lot of cultures to be the age you are an adult, this is another bingo card number that reflects something that plays out in real life. 

20 (One Score)

One score comes from a reference to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is a way of rounding up in 20s, so a “score” is worth 20, two scores is worth 40, and so on.


22 (Two Little Ducks)

Another very obvious one is just based on the way the numbers actually look. This a very cute image for one of the bingo-calling numbers. 

23 (The Lord is My Shepherd)

Psalm 23 in the Old Testament of the Bible is one of the most famous among Christians, and it starts with the phrase “The lord is my shepherd” which is why it has been adopted in this particular context as one of the bingo numbers identities. 

76 (Was She Worth It?)

A more obscure one. In the UK, the marriage license used to cost “Seven and Six” in old money. It was quite a confusing financial system used in the UK before the country went decimal. “Was she worth it” is obviously a joke about whether it was worth getting married, and often the bingo players will shout back “every penny” when 76 comes up as one of the bingo numbers.

77 (Sunset Strip)

In the 1960s, the “77 Sunset Strip” show was all the rage and this means that the term Sunset Strip is used when this number comes out.  

88 (Two Fat Ladies)

It’s yet another one that is based on the way the numbers look (though why it can’t be two fat gentlemen we’re not sure). Two fat ladies are the traditional call when the number 88 comes up during bingo games.

“All The 2s, 3s, 4s, etc…”

Another standard of bingo etiquette and bingo card number calling is to use the “all the” format for the numbers that repeat. 


So the bingo calls follow a pattern, meaning “all the twos” would be 22, “all the threes” is 33, “all the fours” is 44, and so on until there are no more numbers. When we get to 88, it is rare to hear “all the eights” as the caller will often use the two fat ladies' bingo calls, but it is not unheard of.

UK Versus US Bingo

You may have noticed if you regularly play 75-ball bingo that these bingo numbers go beyond that. On our list, we’ve gone all the way up to 90 numbers which means it includes the UK variation of the game where 90 numbers are used for the bingo cards and bingo calling. Both types of bingo are played pretty commonly and on the best bingo sites, you may be able to choose which variety you prefer out of 75-ball and 90-ball bingo.


Whether you are the sort of person who is superstitious and has a bunch of favorite numbers or not, it is definitely worth knowing that there is a history of bingo numbers and their nicknames. This can even help you to mark your bingo card more quickly when the numbers are called out. For example, when “two fat ladies” is called you know that it is going to be followed by “88” by the bingo caller in question. The names and stories behind the game are definitely a subject of some interest.


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