What Is The History Behind Bingo Numbers?

What Is The History Behind Bingo Numbers?












Think of bingo, and it’s likely numbers will follow relatively shortly behind. Numbers are intrinsic with the game of bingo and many players will even have their favourite numbers these days, which they love to see on their bingo card. 


They’ve developed over the years and by the early 20th century, many numbers were also being called with slang terms and specific calls, which would change the game forever. By the 1950s, and then into the boom of the 60s through to the 1980s, bingo calls were a part and parcel of bingo gaming, and while not called in the same way on online bingo sites, many people in the chat rooms still shout them out as if their in their local bingo hall.

The History of the Numbers

Bingo calls have really developed over the years and many are updated to reflect modern culture. However, there are plenty that have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were for the generations of players of yesteryear. We take a look at some of the history behind some of bingo’s most famous numbers…

Number 9 – Doctor’s Orders

Doctor’s Orders relates to a laxative tablet incredibly. While its a rather dated reference, it’s still called today and is named after a tablet which was administered to soldiers during World War II. 

Number 10 – Prime Minister’s Den

Number 10 is associated with the UK Prime Minister who lives at 10 Downing Street and a bingo caller will call number 10 with the name of the Prime Minister and Den. So, in the years of Boris Johnson, it’s commonly called as, “Boris’ Den”.

Number 11 – Legs Eleven

Legs Eleven is one of the most widely known bingo calls and will never change as its based upon the shape of the number rather than a historical event or part of popular culture. Essentially, the two numbers look like a pair of legs and in bingo halls the number will often see a return of wolf whistles.

Number 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd

One of the few bingo calls that references religion is number 23, which is a nod to the first line of Psalm 23 of the Old Testament. The Lord is My Shepherd is another call that has been around for many decades and is still one delivered by bingo callers to this day.

Number 76 – Was She Worth It?

The number 76 is a rather dated reference now and is one many younger players wouldn’t understand these days. It references the pre-decimal cost of a marriage license in the country which was 7/6d. There’s a bit of interaction with this call, with players often calling out “every penny” to the caller.

Moving On From Numbers

Of course, there are also many more bingo calls that are synonymous with bingo games, but at the same time many games are also taking a step away from numbers. Some slingo bingo games are taking a different approach to calling, using online slot reels, while 52-ball bingo uses playing card numbers which must then be matched.


Who know where bingo and the numbers called may go next, but one thing is for sure, it will certainly offer plenty of interest, intrigue and mark a brand new chapter in the history of bingo numbers.

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