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Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Après moi, le déluge.

OMG! The exclamatory online abbreviation has won the approval of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The term —short for "Oh my God" — is one of dozens of new entries in the authoritative reference book's latest online update.

Other Internet-inspired expressions given the stamp of approval include LOL, "laughing out loud"; IMHO, "in my humble opinion"; and BFF, "best friends forever."

The dictionary says that although the terms are associated with modern electronic communications, some are surprisingly old. The first confirmed use of "OMG" was in 1917.

Here's the entry, for those without access:


Etymology:  Initialism < the initial letters of ‘oh my God' (frequently as a graphic abbreviation).

The final element may sometimes represent gosh, goodness, etc.

colloq. (freq. in the language of electronic communications).

 A. int. (and n.)

  Expressing astonishment, excitement, embarrassment, etc.: ‘oh my God!’; = omigod int. Also occas. as n.

1917    J. A. F. Fisher Let. 9 Sept. in Memories (1919) v. 78,   I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!
1994    Re: AW: Ryan & Lorna‥NOT in (Usenet newsgroup) 24 Sept.,   OMG! what did I say?
1997    C. Parker Joy of Cybersex 183   OMG Oh my God!
2006    Elle Girl Mar. 134/4   Is this ridiculous to anyone else? Are we dreaming? OMG, What is going on?
2009    R. V. Kozinets Netnography x. 183   All of it blogged and microblogged and promoted with lots of omgs and lols.
2010    Nottingham Evening Post (Nexis) 9 Dec. 15   OMG, it's Ken Barlow on my phone; I'm not worthy!


 B. adj. 

  Causing or characterized by a reaction of astonishment, excitement, etc.; that might cause one to exclaim ‘oh my God!’

1982    Los Angeles Times 15 Jan. i. 4/5 (advt.)    You'll find the season's best tangelos and tangerines now at our famous produce stalls. We spotted some marked O-M-G Tangelos, about the biggest we've seen.
1999    OMG! Chicago 8/19 in (Usenet newsgroup) 20 Aug.,   She stood at the corner of the stage with this ‘girly’ happy OMG face.
2007    Houston Chron. (Nexis) (3 Star ed.) 31 July (Business section) 1   The iPhone is a very different device, and when you first start working with it, there's definitely an OMG! effect.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture



WTF is this thread going on about?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Amazing that the first instance cited is from 1917, and the first instance in the modern usage is from a usenet group! It's like the OED is trying to be hip, young and fresh (like the Oscars getting James Franco to host) but it still reveals itself as the square older uncle who still wears bomber jackets.

West Coast Greeny

I think *heart* (the symbol you might see on facebook) is the worst entry. Is there any precident for allowing a symbol into the dictionary?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hey, what's wrong with bomber jackets?

West Coast Greeny, I ♥ ya.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Former OED editor covertly deleted thousands of words, book claims

An eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors, according to claims in a book published this week.

Robert Burchfield's efforts to rewrite the dictionary have been uncovered by Sarah Ogilvie, a linguist, lexicographer and former editor on the OED.

Ogilvie worked for 11 years to research and write Words of the World, published by Cambridge University Press, which challenges the widely held belief that editors of the OED between 1884 and 1933 were Anglocentric Oxford dons obsessed with preserving the Queen's English, and that it was not until Robert Burchfield's four supplements, produced between 1972 and 1986, that the dictionary was opened up to the wider world.

"I observed a pattern, that actually it was the earlier editors who were dealing with words in a really enlightened way. They certainly weren't these Anglocentric, judging kind of editors – they were very sensitive to cultural differences and they seemed to be putting in a lot of foreign words and a lot of words from different varieties of English, which must have been amazing for that day when colonial varieties of English were just emerging," said Ogilvie.




I thought it was TL;DR. That must be some down east variant.

And don't they teach you proper punctuation with your acronyms?

Ooops, 'scuse me:



6079_Smith_W wrote:

I thought it was TL;DR. That must be some down east variant.

Down east we are too busy running the country to waste valuable time scouring keyboards for semicolons. Hence, TLTR.