pinged vs. pung

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I started thinking about this a while ago. The question is this:

What is the correct past tense form of the verb “ping”?

Thinking about my own usage, I always use pinged for the transitive (“You pinged me yesterday?”). Sometimes I use pung for the intransitive (“I just pung out yet again.”), but not always (“I keep getting pinged, I can’t get anything done” and “He just pinged out, he’ll be back.”) The OED listing for ping is this (according to, Mac OS X 10.4.9) :

ping, verb [intrans.]   1 make such a sound.     • [trans.] cause (something) to make a such a sound.   2 to query another computer on a TCP/IP network to determine whether there is a connection to it.     • contact a person briefly (esp. electronically) for a brief purpose : he just pinged me, pointing to a breaking news story.

I’ll try to start using “pinged” in all cases from now on.

Additionally, I’d like to apologize for the for the lack of updates in the past month—I’ve been attempting to get my blog on Planet Mozilla, and I have a number of Mozilla-related posts that I’d like published there. So far though, I’m not on it. Partially my fault for not bugging the right people enough, but both they and I are extremely busy. Expect more updates soon :)


  1. Peter Hosey replied on March 28th, 2007:

    I had a look using egrep ‘^..?ing$’ /usr/share/dict/words to find four- and five-letter “*ing” words. Ignoring nouns and gerunds, we have:

    bring: brought, in all cases.

    ding: dinged, in all cases. (Definitely not dung.)

    sting: stung, in all cases.

    wing: winged, in all cases.

    zing: zinged, in all cases.

    fling: flung, in all cases.

    wring: wringed (pt); wrung (pp)

    ring: ringed (pt); rung (pp)

    So the inged/ung division only happens when the preceding letter is ‘r’. In all other cases, it’s either all-inged or all-ung. I’m inclined to go with “pinged” myself.

  2. mykmelez replied on March 28th, 2007:

    In a recent Skeptical Enquirer, Steven Pinker noted recent brain activity studies that show different parts of the brain being active when speakers use irregular conjugations.

    Specifically, irregular conjugations activate memory areas of the brain, while regular conjugations activate analytical (rule-processing) areas. His theory is that irregular conjugations are harder to use and thus rarer (and restricted to commonly used words), but they’re also more evocative (because memory-related) and thus preferable to boring regular conjugations.

    In any case, conjugations and other grammar change over time (sometimes swinging back and forth), so I wouldn’t get hanged ;-) up on supposed “rules.” Today’s heretical linguistic innovations will be defended as “correct” by tomorrow’s language cops, just as yesterday’s innovations are defended by today’s cops.

    (FWIW, I occasionally have used “pang” and “pung”, but I generally prefer “pinged” these days.)

  3. Colin replied on March 29th, 2007:

    Hm, that’s quite interesting. It seems like that could be the same mechanism by which we differentiate synonyms by connotation. A word’s connotation is pretty much just the contexts in which we remember it being used, and in my experience words which are synonymous with meaning have subtle connotative clues attached to them (that may not even be in a dictionary.

    Back on the original topic. Thinking about my own usage, I seem to only be using “pung” in the construction “pung out,” but only when referring to myself: i.e. I always say “he pinged out a while ago,” but sometimes I say “I pung out a while ago,” rather than “I pinged out a while ago.” I suppose it’s an odd quirk—it does sound interesting though. A Google Search for pinged pung reveals that others have been at least struggling with this, so it’s not just me being odd (whew!)If you have a link to that Skeptical Enquirer, Myk, I’d love to see it.