Someone may say, "I'll ping him and see if I can get a response." If I want to ask if the ping was successful, how can I refer to the response? Is there a more clever way than "Did your ping get a response?" I feel like pong may be clever, but not very clear.

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    As someone in the tech industry, I can safely say pong is the most widely accepted term for a ping response. ACK is generally considered outdated and originated as a response to ENQ, not ping.
    – Cat
    Oct 15, 2014 at 3:20
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    @Eric As someone in the "tech" industry over the last 25 years, a person who suggested "pong" without talking about paddle controllers would be seen as a person who didn't know their history. The old-school response was "<x> is alive", or at least an ACK (acknowlegement). Ping pong it a table-tennis game, not a computer term.
    – Edwin Buck
    Oct 15, 2014 at 5:48
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    Answers are a bit relative since this is technical slang. In my experience, when spoken to verbally, the response tends to be "ACK" as in "I received an ACK from the guy." If someone enters a "Ping" in chat or email, the response does tend to be "Pong". Again, this is IT slang for "(Are you/)(Is someone) there?" and since it carries a (very) slight humorous connotation, the response is tended to be equally as slightly-funny.
    – RLH
    Oct 15, 2014 at 14:11
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    As someone in the tech industry who was writing software before he could legally drive a car, I can safely say I hear both pong and ack in regular usage (even within one office.)
    – phs
    Oct 16, 2014 at 2:20
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    @EdwinBuck: didn't know their history? RFC 1459, 4.6.2 "Ping Message" and 4.6.3 "Pong Message": PONG message is a reply to ping message. May 1993 - that's 21 years ago. There are many places that use PING, not only ICMP...
    – Konerak
    Oct 16, 2014 at 6:53

8 Answers 8


In the lost days of IRC, the response to ping was pong.

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    And before IRC, it was the first commercially successful computer game. Depending on the crowd, you'll get either recognition or confusion.
    – Edwin Buck
    Oct 15, 2014 at 5:58
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    @Edwin, and before the computer game, it was a physical game (still is), and before the physical game it was used in sonar (attested since the early 1940s), and ping as onomatopoeia for the sound of an object striking sharply has been around since the 1830s, and a verb since the 1850s ("ping that can" would mean "shoot that can"). Point being that all these meanings trace back to onomatopoeia, and are intuitively comprehensible, especially with the support of context (I promise you no one had to ask how Parker Brothers came up with the name "ping pong", even without sonar experience).
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 15, 2014 at 11:39
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    @DanBron the game of table tennis and its nickname of ping pong predates radar (as we know it, not the theory) by roughly 60 years.
    – TylerH
    Oct 15, 2014 at 17:57
  • @DanBron I enjoy a good game of ping-pong too, but the computer term ping has it's roots in sonar concepts. Which lends me to consider what the terminology would be like if it were otherwise, for example, would we "serve up" a "ping"? And if that were so, wouldn't the response be a "return"?
    – Edwin Buck
    Oct 16, 2014 at 14:39

The Jargon File seems to suggest that "ack" (or "nak", in a sense of "I'm here but don't have time for this") might be understood in sufficiently nerdy circles.

ACK/NAK Acknowledged/Not Acknowledged

The Story of Ping

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    I would definitely agree with ACK as a programmer, and that was the first thing that popped in to my mind when I saw the question. The only problem I see is that if you are using ping to mean contact in general I am not sure that ACK is as applicable since most people will likely not know what an ACK is. For those wondering, an ACK is the response TCP sends to ACKnowledge receipt of a packet. Oct 14, 2014 at 22:48
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    "If I want to ask if the ping was successful, how can I refer to the response?" Are you suggesting that "Did you get ACK?" (or "an ACK") is the way to ask about a reply?
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 15, 2014 at 6:26
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    @AndrewLeach: Yes, I would probably say "I didn't get an ACK yet." Oct 15, 2014 at 6:37
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    Common ping (echo) is ICMP which does not use acknowledgements (ACK). You have an echo request and an echo response or no response. Oct 15, 2014 at 17:25
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    -1 This is an example of trying to be too clever. ACK is the response in TCP, while ping uses ICMP. Using ACK here is a misnomer. Of course, any developer who half-understands networking will get what you're trying to say, and it certainly makes you look nerdy if that's the goal; but to someone who actually understands the topic, this makes you look foolish. Oct 15, 2014 at 21:16

The response to a ping, in computer networking terminology, is an ICMP Echo reply

Perhaps then "Did you get a reply" would be most correct.

Edit: Original RFC (defining document for internet protocols, courtesy of @digitaltrauma): RFC 792

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    The question isn't about ICMP, it's about ordinary people pinging each other. Only the geekiest computer nerd would make use of the underlying network terminology in this metaphor. Also, don't forget that network ping is just a metaphor derived from SONAR pings.
    – Barmar
    Oct 20, 2014 at 18:33

The output of the Windows/MSDOS ping command seems to leave very little room for interpretation:

C:\>ping google.com

Pinging google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=127
Reply from bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=127
Reply from bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=127
Reply from bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=127

Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 1ms, Average = 0ms

According to over a billion computers, the response to a ping is called a "Reply."

Of course, the term "ping" predates computers. Submarine sonars emit a "ping" and wait for an "echo," at least according to this source: http://maritime.org/doc/fleetsub/sonar/chap6.htm

  • By the same logic that was a single ping, though clearly it was actually 4.
    – Jon Hanna
    Oct 15, 2014 at 9:47
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    Of course, Linux ping output is <n> bytes from <host>: <stuff>... I don't think Windows really counts. Also, I think it just faking networking.
    – MadTux
    Oct 15, 2014 at 16:05
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    @BrianS I'm sorry. I just don't have a very high regard of Microsoft Windows.
    – MadTux
    Oct 16, 2014 at 8:24
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    @MadTux: That shines through in your ludicrous notion that it somehow cannot perform networking. Oct 16, 2014 at 10:21
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    "According to over a billion computers" Yeah because if Windows was wrong about this, nobody would buy a Windows computer and the "majority vote" would have turned out completely different (=sarcasm).
    – Luc
    Oct 16, 2014 at 19:20

It's slang based on different technologies, and the slang response depends on which technology you are more familiar with:

  1. Sonar: echo or pong (itself a joking slang in the context).
  2. Table tennis (real or simulated): pong
  3. Internet: echo (from ICMP ECHO packets), ACK (from ACK in TCP/IP) or pong (from the above being slangily used for ICMP Echo responses).
  4. IRC: pong (IRC has a PING command that works over IRC analogous to ICMP PING but checking for IRC client connection and network distance over that network, rather than the underlying TCP/IP connection, the response to it is PONG).
  5. Weblogs: pingback (from a type of link-back mechanism used by some blogging software).
  • there is no ICMP ECHO there are ICMP ECHO reply and ICMP ECHO request. Oct 16, 2014 at 11:04
  • In passive sonar, the response is also called a return.
    – O. Jones
    Oct 16, 2014 at 20:38
  • @OllieJones I've never heard, or heard of, that being used as a reply to ping in the slang sense of contacting a person, though.
    – Jon Hanna
    Oct 17, 2014 at 0:12

There is no word for this. Be clear; just say Did your ping get a response? or Did you get a response for your ping?

Reply is an alternative to response, here.

And of course if you are in a technical context, where you really mean use of the network command ping, then you might want to ask what response was received, as the content of the ping response is often important.

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    In a technical (networking) context, "reply" is best. The formal names in the RFC for the messages used are "ICMP Echo Request" and "ICMP Echo Reply". It's not true that the content is important. As the standard (RFC 792) states: "To form an echo reply message, the source and destination addresses are simply reversed, the type code changed to 0, and the checksum recomputed."
    – Steven K
    Oct 14, 2014 at 20:55
  • @stevenKath: 1. There are 4 occurrences of response and 5 of reply here (Linux man page). And 10 of response and 5 of reply here (Microsoft ping page). 2. If it were true that the content were unimportant then there would be no reason for the content to be specific (anything beyond, say, ACK), or for it to follow the particular command options/switches you provide. 3. But the technical details of ping are not really important in the current context.
    – Drew
    Oct 14, 2014 at 21:31
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    This is the best answer. ACK and pong can work in certain circles, but "response" or "reply" leaves no room for ambiguity or confusion outside of tech circles (and the term ping has come to be used outside of network ICMP protocols anyway).
    – user17782
    Oct 15, 2014 at 6:35

Sending a 'ping' is quite common in I.T to see if something is responding at the other end, such as a server or website. I might call the response a 'pingback'. I am not quite sure if it fits for your purpose as it's usually associated with automatic notifications for linking of blog messages.

  • pingback would be appropriate if the response to your ping is automatic. e.g. An out-of-office e-mail notification.
    – Misti
    Oct 14, 2014 at 17:00
  • You might call it a pingback, but no-one else does... books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=pingback Oct 15, 2014 at 5:38
  • @GreenAsJade Apparently, Alo is not the only one. I don't know (I don't care?), what books.google.com has to say about this, but in my country (Poland) and in my area (IT industry) using "pingback" as an answer to "ping" is so obviously common, that I was actually quite surprised, that the only answer with "pingback" here has so low score...
    – trejder
    Oct 15, 2014 at 7:06
  • @trejder Of course, ngram is only one reference/source, nothing definitive. But - one source is better than none ;) I wonder if Alo is also from Europe? Would that make 'pingback' a 'European-English' phrase? I work in IT in Australia and I've never heard it... to my ears it sounds "made up and foreign", not a word that sounds "right". Oct 15, 2014 at 10:01
  • @GreenAsJade Yes I am in the UK and for me the word pingback feels self-explanatory and in this situation you could ask it to someone a week later and it doesn't need any further explanation or reference, which is what the OP was asking.. e.g. 'Did you get a pingback from James in the end?'. Maybe a European thing, I am not sure. I do like 'Ack' though but it does rely on the other person knowing what that means.
    – Alo
    Oct 15, 2014 at 10:58

I always thought that a successful ping resulting in you receiving a ping! This is based on my understanding of sonar (where the verb 'to ping' originated) where if you are able to hear a "ping" off something then you hit it (i.e. it is there).

So "I sent a ping" and if I was successful then "I received a ping".

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