Winston Churchill, Unbelievably, Was First Recipient of ‘OMG’ Ever

The shortened version of 'oh my God' turns 100 years old this month.

September 12, 2017 5:00 am
Winston Churchill Was First Recipient of 'OMG' Ever
Winston Churchill (Imperial War Museums/Public Domain)

“LOL, dad. You’re, like, IDK, so incredible. Like, OMG, dad. OMG.”

If you’ve recently received a text message from your teenage daughter—or insert-any-millennial-child’s-name here—that read something like this, you’re probably not alone. But did you know your daughter’s unknowingly quoting a letter sent to a famous future wartime British prime minister?

According to the Wall Street Journal, said letter, was sent to future British prime minister Winston Churchill in 1917, who, 100 years ago this month, became the first-ever recipient of a note that used the shortened version of “Oh my God.”

The author? Retired British naval admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher (“Jacky,” not “JAF,” to friends). Fisher sent the missive to Churchill, who at the time was serving as the minister of munitions, to lambast Great Britain’s weak response to German naval warfare. Sarcastically, Fisher ended his letter with this stab: “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!!” (As the Journal‘s Ben Zimmer explains, “on the tapis” means “under consideration.”)

When the letter was discovered, it pre-dated what the Oxford English Dictionary had originally ruled as the first-ever use of “OMG” by 77 years.

If Fisher had only know what kind of garbled mess of the English language his three-lettered abbreviation would lead to at present.

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