May 242014
OMG phrase

Oh, my God! Or should you say Oh, my goodness? Photo by Arvind Balaraman/

OMG is an acronym for “oh, my God!” People use this shortened version on numerous social media sites as an exclamation after receiving shocking news, to vent their frustrations or express disbelief. Other people use a variant of OMG by adding the word ‘goodness’ in place of the letter G, as in “oh, my goodness!”

These individuals who replace God with ‘goodness’ are usually Christians and attempt to emphasize to their listeners that they are not taking the Lord’s name in vain. They are not breaking the Ten Commandments.

Years ago, before the internet and social media sites, my pastor would interject anyone who exclaimed the OMG phrase by asking “what’s God got to do with it?” I was perplexed by his understanding of the phrase. One thing occurred though, his reaction did teach me not to use that phrase around him whether I understood it or not. “What’s God got to do with it?”

God has everything to do with it.

The commandment is ‘thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.’ When someone receives shocking news, this is not in vain. The verbal exclamation of OMG is acknowledging their connection to God, not swearing to God or using His name in vain, in my understanding. It is akin to ‘talking’ to God during an astonishing moment.

Swearing to God is using the forbidden phrases such as “God d*mn it” or “I swear to God” by using Him as a witness. Those phrases are to be avoided by Christians.


The first documented use of the acronym OMG was in 1917 by Lord Fischer in a letter to Winston Churchill (see the letter here). Fischer’s use of OMG was in disbelief to an issue regarding newspaper headlines during WWI (World War I). Ironically, his disbelief was the direct result of a (social) media headline print as in the same manner people use it today.

While I question the intention of the OMG usage, I do still try to avoid it as not to offend the people who don’t share my understanding. I could be wrong …