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Letter to Winston Churchill May Have Contained First Use of ‘OMG’

Winston Churchill
Hulton Archive

While we may have been able to guess that the abbreviation “OMG” was around before internet and text message communication made it so ubiquitous, we would’ve assumed its etymology traced back to a 12-year-old girl who was excited about David Cassidy or Leif Garrett or another era-appropriate cute guy.

In turns out this assumption would’ve been very wrong.

In fact, the first known use of OMG has been found in the correspondences of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who is considered one of history’s better statesman.

Now it wasn’t Winston himself who may have coined the abbreviation. Instead it was British admiral John Arbuthnot “Jacky” Fisher who used it in a 1917 letter to Churchill, who was a military official at the time.

The brief note, which was unearthed by the folks at Letters of Note, began with Fisher stating to Churchill that he was upset with some World War I-related newspaper headlines. Then he closed the letter with this:

“I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis — O.M.G (Oh! My! God!)— Shower it on the Admiralty!!”

We don’t really know what that means — you know those early 20th century Brits with their kooky slang — so we can’t say if Fisher is using the flexible abbreviation to express surprise or disgust. Check out the entire letter below and tell us what you think.

OMG Churchill
Letters of Note

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