[Ads-l] "to ping"

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Thu Mar 30 22:29:55 EDT 2017

Which sense of "ping" doesn't the OED have?

Under "ping, int. and n.", 3.a., "A short pulse of high-pitched, usually ultrasonic sound, as transmitted (or received back) by a sonar transducer; (also) an audible signal by which this is represented to a user of such equipment.", are:

1943   Penguin New Writing 18 27   ‘Daisy had a ping about an hour ago... We're doing an Asdic sweep’... A ‘ping’ is the slang term for an echo.1956   Deep-sea Res. 3 267   The system had a repetition rate of about 10 pings per second and a ping length of about two milliseconds.1967   J. B. Hersey Deep-sea Photogr. iv. 59/1   It was possible to obtain the height of camera above bottom simply by measuring the time interval between the arrival at the ship of the sound pulse, or ping, and its bottom echo.1998   S. Sontag et al. Blind Man's Bluff p. xiv,   World War II images of subs shooting torpedoes, of men trapped sweating within cramped steel cylinders as Japanese sonar pings rang through their hulls and depth charges fell around them.

  Under "ping, v.2", 2.a., I find:

1999   Sea Angler May 72   Circling and pinging the wreck with the sounder showed it to be quite a large lump.2000   National Geographic Adventure Mar.–Apr. 69/1   A four-foot-long missile-shaped sonar ‘tow fish’ pinged into the depths, producing a black-and-white picture of the sea bottom.


      From: Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
 Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2017 9:34 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "to ping"
I bow to Wilson's recollection here--I don't have the time at the moment to investigate, but I suspect that the UNIX use comes originally from the submariner's use, which is probably onomatopoetic.

I did just check the OED, which doesn't have that sense (although it does have the sense of 'the sound of a piston misfiring').


Geoffrey S. Nathan


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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