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lotto-like game of chance, 1936; many theories about its origin, none satisfying; the most likely is bingo! as an exclamation of sudden realization or surprise (attested from 1923). Uncertain connection to the slang word for "brandy" (1690s); attested as "liquor" in American English, 1861. Thomas Chandler Haliburton ("Sam Slick") in "The Americans at Home" (1854) recounts a story of a drinking game in which the children's song about the farmer's dog was sung and when it came time to spell out the name, every participant had to take a letter in turn, and anyone who missed or flubbed had to drink.
An exclamation in reaction to something sudden and unexpected, or expressing sudden success: Have your contracts and debts declared void and, bingo, you're back in business
[Canadian; fr late 1600s bingo, ''brandy,'' and US mid-1800s bingo, ''liquor'']
A more or less benign gambling game (1930s+)Related Terms