Join any online bingo site and you'll find that it's not just the numbers that are called out, but various unusual bingo calling names too. As history tells it, these names came about because of the time taken to pull balls manually from bingo machines, giving the bingo caller something else to say to fill up the time.
The origins of some of the bingo calls are obvious: "one dozen" for 12, "coming of age" for 18 and "half a century" for 50, for example. Some of the calls you'll hear on UK bingo sites, however, may not have that obvious a link to the number they represent, but there is generally method to the madness! Here we'll make sense of some of those calls that you may have questioned in the past: Let's start with number one, often called as "Kelly's eye" in UK bingo games. The name actually refers to the Australian gangster, Ned Kelly, who was - you guessed it - one-eyed. There are plenty of cultural and historical references too. "Knock at the door" - or number four - comes from the nursery rhyme that starts "one, two, buckle my shoe", while "Doctor's orders" for number nine refers to a World War II laxative pill that was commonly known as "number nine". "Dancing Queen" for 17 uses lyrics from the well-known ABBA hit, and it was the film "39 Steps" that inspired the use of "Steps" as the call for number 39. Some of the calls that are used in bingo games don't refer to anything quite as clever as the above, but instead take the shape of the numbers when written numerically into account. 88 does indeed look like "two fat ladies", and "one little duck" is chosen for number two as the number resembles the body and neck of these aquatic birds. The same goes for "two little ducks" for the number 22. "Legs eleven" is used for number 11 because of the shape of the double digits, while the fact that the number five looks a little like a wiggly snake explains why "snakes alive" is used to call the number 55. The next time you play bingo online, keep your ears peeled for the calls, and see if you can work out the reasoning behind the ones we've not mentioned above!