The acronym “OMG,” meant to express surprise or excitement with shorthand for the phrase “Oh my God” (or, one supposes, “oh my gosh” or “oh my goodness”) was not started by texting teenagers, as many people might have expected.
Rather, it was recently discovered that the phrase began all the way back in 1917, in a letter to none other than Winston Churchill — before he took up the prime minister position that launched him into history as a major political figure.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the letter addressed to Churchill from retired Navy Adm. John Arbuthnot Fisher contained “OMG” — meaning teenagers can now defend their use of the phrase in conversation by saying they are quoting an important historical conversation between a Navy admiral and Winston Churchill.
Fisher was writing to Churchill, then the minister of munitions, to criticize Britain’s weak response to German naval warfare.
“I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis [under consideration] — O.M.G. (Oh! My! God!) — Shower it on the Admiralty!!” wrote Fisher.
The use of “OMG” predates by 77 years what the Oxford English Dictionary had thought to be the origin before one of its long-time library researchers included the years prior to the mid-’90s in his search.
Churchill will be portrayed in the November film “The Darkest Hour” by acclaimed actor Gary Oldman.
No word yet on whether the film includes Churchill rolling his eyes and uttering, “OMG.”