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 chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/14138/… 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 https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-cn/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.

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    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

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