In a quite lovely bit of sleuthing, the Oxford English Dictionary has discovered a use of"OMG" from 1917 . It comes in a letter by British Admiral John"Jacky" Fisher, who wrote that:
I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!The letter was published in his Memories, published in 1919.
Fisher was famous for being the driving force behind the creation of the HMS Dreadnought, an advanced capital ship which, when it was launched in 1906, seemed revolutionary. This, the world navies agreed, made all other capital ships obsolete, but, distressingly to the British, destroyed their long-standing lead in naval power, if temporarily. The result was an enormously expensive Anglo-German naval race, which did much to bring on World War I.
Fisher was also famous for his wild flights, often expressed in intemperate letters. In 1915, as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, he and Winston Churchill (then head of the Admiralty) clashed, and Fisher, on May 15, 1915, resigned his position in a note to Churchill,"I am unable to remain any longer your colleague...I am off to Scotland at once so as to avoid all questionings."
Churchill, somewhat flummoxed by the idea that the uniformed head of the Navy was simply abandoning his post, found the Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and related the story. Hoping that Fisher had not yet left, Asquith wrote a terse note to Fisher--"Lord Fisher, In the King's name, I order you at once to return to your post, H.H. Asquith, 15 May 1915"--and sent his aides to track down the Admiral. The Prime Minister might, one thinks, have been forgiven for using"OMG!" himself at that moment, but Asquith was always more restrained.(sub. required)"OMG, int. (and n.) and adj.". OED Online. March 2011. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/293068 (accessed March 24, 2011).
comments powered by Disqus
David Silbey - 3/26/2011
Yep, collected and published as Letters to Venetia Stanley
Alan Allport - 3/26/2011
In addition to being visibly drunk on more than one occasion, Asquith was known to write letters to his mistress during important Cabinet discussions - the 1915 equivalent of texting under the desk. OMG indeed.
Jeff Vanke - 3/24/2011
OMG OED using Google Books. I replicated the find -- but they found it first.
- Isis Palmyra demolition has begun with ancient God Lion statue destroyed
- Moving Photographs of Japanese American Internees, Then and Now
- A One-of-a-Kind Trove Reveals What 19th-Century American Boyhood Was Really Like
- St. Louis University moves controversial statue after protests
- UNC Renames Building That Honored Ku Klux Klan Leader
- NYT hosts debate including Eric Foner: How Americans should remember Reconstruction
- William Leuchtenburg says historians and the media have been too hard on Obama
- Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop WWII Museum, dead at 48
- Historian discounts claim that Churchill and other British PM's were gay
- Nick Bunker Wins $50,000 2015 George Washington Book Prize