Bingo is much more than a game of chance: we all know it! For some it is a hobby, for others a much anticipated social event and a way of getting a sense of community.
Like any other activity that represents the heart of a social community, bingo has developed a certain way of speaking – what those who are ‘in the know’ call bingo lingo.
There are general abbreviations like GL (good luck), WD (well done), more specialized ones such as 3TG (3 to go), and then there is the famous British bingo lingo, which revolves around humorous nicknames for the drawn numbers.
Some of these alternative names are based on physical resemblances between the figures and everyday objects.
For instance, it doesn’t take a genius to understand whey number 2 is called ‘One Little Duck’, and 7 – ‘One Little Crutch’. Using a bit of logic, you will quickly understand that ‘Two Little Ducks’ stands for 22, while 27 is called ‘Duck and a Crutch’.
Some may argue that calling 88 ‘Two Fat Ladies’ is a little offensive, but despite the discussions, the term continues to be in use. On the other hand, calling the number 80 ‘Gandhi’s Breakfast’ might take an exercise of imagination. Just try to visualize Mahatma Gandhi in a legs-crossed position (the figure 8) in front of an empty tray of food (the figure 0).
Other bingo lingo terms use phonetics, being based on rhymes. This is the case for number 3 ‘You and me’, number 4 ‘Knock at the door’, number 5 ‘Man alive’, 25 ‘Jump and jive’, 28 ‘Two and eight, in a state’, 32 ‘Buckle my shoe’, 30 ‘Dirty Gertie’, 42 ‘Winnie the Pooh’, 52 ‘Danny La Rue’, 58 ‘Make them wait’, or 67 ‘Made in Heaven’.
Pop Culture or Historical References
This category of alternative bingo names is the most interesting from a linguistic point of view. Some terms are based on long forgotten references dating back to the 1950s, while others are inspired by the modern pop culture.
For instance, number 9 is referred to as ‘Doctor’s Orders’ as this was the name of a laxative medicine administered to soldiers during WWII. Still in the traditional approach, we have an alternative name for number 7 as ‘Lucky’, while number 13 is ‘Unlucky for some’. Both bingo lingo terms refer to certain cultural superstitions about the power of numbers to attract or chase away luck.
Older bingo players may know that the number 71 used to be called ‘Bang on the drum’, and would have stood in the rhymes category. However, since 2003 a fresh, more modern term entered the bingo vocabulary. Now the same number goes as ‘J-Lo’s bum’.
Very interesting to study from a linguistic point of view, British bingo lingo is still a thing among players. So, if you don’t want to feel like an outsider when entering a bingo room, you should learn the ropes of this jargon as soon as possible.
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