This question already has an answer here:

倪阔乐 pointed in his answer, 乒 and 乓 have onomatopoeic use and these characters were "chosen for the sound playing the game makes" and it's a Great explanation but....

When I see 乒乓 together I see the picture of "table" with their legs (丿丶) plus a "net" on it. Not you ?

They looks like pictographic characters but using not one but two characters instead!

Primarily I was asking the etymology and if they have they other uses ? (this part is filled, thanks!)

marked as duplicate by Colin McLarty, user5714, songyuanyao, Stan, NS.X. Mar 15 '16 at 7:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 象 rattle iciba:雹子打在屋顶上乒乓乱响。jukuu:门窗被风刮得乒乓山响。 – user6065 Mar 12 '16 at 13:52
  • 1
    The question here is different from the title question in… but is already asked in the text of that question. And the answer here partly conflicts with the answer there. I think it would be better if the answers were merged and one of the questions closed. – Colin McLarty Mar 12 '16 at 17:22
up vote 4 down vote accepted

乒 and 乓 have onomatopoeic use for sudden noise from a gun or similar. Their resemblance with an actual pingpong table is coincidental, and the characters were chosen for the sound playing the game makes.

See乒乓球 for the history.

Both characters are used individually, but do not form any other words than 乒乓 and related terms. They derive from 兵 (bīng, soldier).

Edit: Expanding a bit, because these characters are a bit of interest. They seem to appear during Ming in the 16th century, with the vernacular literature of the time. Some examples:

西游记 / Journey to the West (Ming, 1580): 如此二三日,又听得后宰门乒乓乒乓,砖瓦乱响。

封神演义 / Creation of the gods (Ming, 1560): 乒乒乓乓,如同阵前炮响;轰轰烈烈,却似锣鼓齐鸣。

儒林外史 / Rulin waishi / Unofficial world history (Qing, 1750): 忽然乒乓一声响,屋梁上掉下一件东西来;不左不右,不上不下,端端正正掉在燕窝碗里,将碗打翻。

Some sources tell that 乒 is a hand holding a pickax, but late characters are rarely if ever ideographic in nature. More likely, some creative author used 兵 to coin a new set of onomatopoetic characters. 乒乒乓乓 has so become a proverb from the Ming era romance literature.

  • 1
    individual use: iciba: 乓(形容枪声、关门声、东西砸破声等)她把枪对着他,然后就是乓的一声。我们听到乓的一声枪响.乒:中国队囊括所有五枚世乒竞标赛金牌.他们用脚在桌子搞得乒零乓郎一团糟. ” 莫里哀说过 – user6065 Mar 13 '16 at 7:09

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.