“Bingo-Balls” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by digby fire dept
Different kinds of games all have different kinds of language that they use. Some, like cricket, seem designed just to confuse people who aren’t in the know. After all, what would a complete newcomer to the game make of phrases like “leg before wicket” and “bowling a maiden over”?
Others, like bingo, use language to make the experience that little bit more fun as well as to create even more of a feeling of community. People in the know understand what dibbers, or dobbers, mean but others might not have a clue that these are the pens that mark off the numbers as they are called out.
Online Keeping Bingo Lingo Alive
Admittedly, this is becoming less of an issue as more and more people are starting to play online bingo at Paddy Power and other similar sites where the numbers are crossed off automatically. But this has also brought about its own special lingo with elements like chat rooms, boosted games, and slingo, a combination of slots games and bingo. But it’s only to be expected that this new world of bingo with many variations on the old favourite game would bring up new vocabulary.
Oniline may be driving bingo’s growth, as outlined in a recent YouGov report, but fans of the traditional game will still have a nostalgic fondness for the traditional caller’s slang, generally delivered by a larger-than-life personality up on the stage in the bingo hall.
Essentially, this has always been a way to add a little drama and theatre to the bingo experience, as well as more than a little humour. The fact that many of the sayings also quickly became memorable catchphrases has been another secret of their popularity.
They range from fairly obvious examples that are based on the shape of the numbers themselves like “legs eleven” and the distinctly un-PC “two fat ladies, eighty eight” to others that are more to do with everything from politics to popular culture.
Prevailing Culture Driving Change
“BORIS JOHNSON : PRIME MINISTER : Congrat” (Public Domain) by Captain Roger Fenton 186
So we also have “Boris’s Den, number ten” and “steps, thirty nine”, a reference to the John Buchan novel “The 39 Steps” There are also many bingo slang words that hark right back to one of the traditional leisure activities that bingo replaced – the music hall. So we have “Burlington Bertie, number 30” after the song of the same name and “Harry Tate, number eight” in honour of a famous music hall performer.
These last examples do show how the world of bingo slang is undoubtedly in need of some updating. As a result, some operators are gradually starting to introduce contemporary references in order to draw more millennials into the bingo fold. So don’t be surprised if you start to hear phrases like “Amazon Prime, thirty nine” and “Instagram pics, twenty six” starting to be used instead – showing another way that millennials are beginning to change the world.
So hopefully, this has given you a quick insight into the not so mysterious world of bingo slang – and now it’s “eyes down, get ready to play”!