Word of the Day


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1. to make a short high sound like the sound of a small bell

2. to move quickly and suddenly with a short high sound

3. to send a message from one computer to another to test whether they are connected

4. to contact someone by phone or email

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The verb ping was first used in English in the middle of the 19th century. It is derived from the slightly earlier noun ping, meaning a short high sound like the sound of a small bell. The computer-related meanings come from the late 20th century.


Ping is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like the sound it refers to. Originally used to convey the sound of bullets, especially rifle bullets, ping was subsequently used to refer to machines that emit bell-like sounds, such as typewriters, lifts and phones, or things that move rapidly, such as tennis balls. The game of Ping-Pong is named after the sound of the ball hitting the bat, which could not truthfully be described as bell-like. The computer meaning, number 3 above, was first used in the 1980s, with the more general meaning of sending an electronic message coming shortly afterwards.


‘I hate dainty minds,’ answered Marjorie. ‘But a girl has to be dainty in person. If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it.’
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Related words

chime, chink, clink

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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