Tuesday 14 August 2012

OMG! An Annoying Acronym with Honourable Origins

Perhaps the most novel aspect of the trend for sending SMS "text" messages and "tweets" has been the growth of acronyms. LOL, BTW, FWIW, OTOH, IIRC are but a few of the acronyms that have become standard in many types of new media. Perhaps the most annoying acronym is "OMG" (Oh My God!), an expression that is not used in the context of exclaiming devotion to a deity but, rather, simply to express any of a myriad of emotions (often unrelated): amazement, disbelief, shock, outrage, pleasure, etc.  Personally, the term conjures up an unappealing image of two shrill, fast-talking young girls gossiping and repeatedly screeching "Oh My God!".

However, it may be that the acronym's origins are far more distinguished than we could have imagined. Indeed, as the letter below reveals, the acronym OMG (as a contraction of "Oh My God!") had been used as early as 1917 and appeared in an exchange between figures as notable as a future Prime Minister and a First Sea Lord -- it is even used in reference to the Honours System!

Lord Fisher
In 1917 Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Lord Fisher of Kilverstone GCB, OM, GCVO (better known as "Lord Fisher") wrote a letter to The Right Honourable Winston Churchill in which he jokingly referred to the creation of a new Order of Knighthood to be known as "O.M.G." (Oh! My! God!). He cheekily suggested that, in light of the Royal Navy's great success, this new honour should be showered upon the Admiralty.

Even if an earlier use of this acronym can be found -- I doubt it will have such a distinguished progenitor!

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