It's Official: OMG is Now a Word

Don’t look now, but I think my old English grammar teacher is doing somersaults in her grave: No less an authority than the Oxford English Dictionary has declared “OMG” a word, along with two other popular 3-letter abbreviations, “LOL” and “FYI.”

Language purists may scoff at the new additions or even consider them a sure sign of the decline of Western civilization. However, in it’s latest update, the OED notes that both OMG and LOL have jumped out of the confines of electronic screens and are now:

“found outside of electronic contexts, however; in print, and even in spoken use…The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”

The scholars at the OED also managed to dig up the first recorded use of OMG, and surprisingly, the phrase dates back to 1917, about 65 years before the invention of the Internet. In a personal letter (aka “snail mail”), a J. A. Fisher wrote, “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!”

Another fun fact: before it was reincarnated as an abbreviation for “laughing out loud,” LOL had a previous life as an abbreviation for “little old lady” in the 60’s.

OMG and LOL were not the only abbreviations added to the OED in the last update. WAGs, an acronym for “wives and girlfriends,” also received its own entry in the dictionary. The OED notes that the acronym was first used in 2002 and has since become unremarkable, saying:

“It is quite uncommon for new words to reach such a level of ubiquity in such a short time after their first appearance, and that the word Wag has done so perhaps demonstrates not so much its own inherent usefulness or catchiness as the influence that the print media…can still have on the ways in which language is used, even in the age of social networking.”

7 replies
  1. Charlee
    Charlee says:

    No! This can’t be a real word, this is just stupid!

    I don’t know why this bugs me so much but having OMG recognised as a real word is depressing…

    I’m going to go cry into my tea now.

  2. Bosun Will
    Bosun Will says:

    Accepting OMG as a word seems really stupid. The English dictionary was suppose to teach people what they should know to be correct and not accepting what people say is correct. Now who is learning, is it the English student or the Dictionary. If it is the student, then they should have know omg is not a word. But if it is the Dictionary learning, then English is digging it grave accepting omg as a word.

  3. Michael O
    Michael O says:

    Having the OED declare OMG to be a word will have no effect on its usage. Except, perhaps, in scrabble games. Do not worry overmuch that it has been declared a word. People who were wont to use it will not use it any more or any less. Those who eschew it will not suddenly find themselves compelled to use it.


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