OMG! First Use of Abbreviation Found in a 1917 Letter to Winston Churchill

Lord Fisher's Twitter account would have ruled. First use of OMG was in his 1917 Letter to Winston Churchill

  • Share
  • Read Later
Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This one’s for all you amateur internet archaeologists out there: The first recorded use of the ubiquitous texting abbreviation OMG wasn’t uttered by a precocious tween in the 1990s, but by one Lord Fisher in a letter to none other than Winston Churchill.

John Fisher, known as “Jacky,” was an admiral and naval innovator who served as head of the British Navy during World War I, but resigned his post in 1915 after a falling out with Churchill over the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. While his naval career was over by the time he wrote his “dear Winston” the letter in 1917, one can only imagine he had become acclimated to speaking in coded messages and thus his ingenious use of OMG, which he helpfully explained to Churchill was an abbreviation for Oh! My God! Now if he could just explain what “Shower it on the Admiralty” means.

Here’s the letter:

Letters of Note

Letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill from Letters of Note and Smithsonian Magazine.

MORE: Top 25 Political Icons

MORE: Winston Churchill: Portraits of a Private Man


It's more complex than a simple 'Oh My God'. It's a reference to the British Honours system. Fisher notes there is to be a new order of knighthood (I presume this is the Order of the British Empire (OBE) which appeared in 1917), and makes a joke based on the already-existing KCMG and CMG: the new order should be called OMG, and is for those in the Navy who are not doing their job (in Fisher's view – that being the point of the rest of the letter).


Only 1 possible conclusion: the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature went to the wrong man


@jlhughes Furthermore, the already existing CMG, KCMG & GCMG were joked to be "Call Me God", "Kindly Call Me God" and "God Calls Me God" (actually commander, knight commander, and grand commander of the Order of St Michael & St. George).