“OMG” rehabilitated

March 23, 2015 • 12:36 pm

I’ve been gently (and, I hope, jocularly) rebuked several times for using the abbreviation “OMG” on this site, with the rebukers apparently thinking that I was invoking the name of God, something apparently forbidden for atheists. (I won’t mention similar rebukes in more salacious situations.) It happened again today with reader Lauren.

But in this case all the readers are wrong, for on this site “OMG” stands for “Oh mi gato!”, which of course is Spanish for “Oh, my cat!”

Let the rebukes cease from now on.

You’re welcome to think of other non-goddy phrases for which “OMG” is an acronym.

163 thoughts on ““OMG” rehabilitated

        1. You obviously have, and ones of steel, making an ambiguous comment like that to ‘Missironfistatheist’…


  1. Well, the phrase is generally reserved for something unbelievable, no? So, what better word to use than the ultimate in unbelievability?

    Besides, a god’s name isn’t useful for much other than being taken in vain.

    I vote for the retention of “Oh, my God!” as the expansion.

    Jesus Christ people, have you no sense of blasphemy!?


      1. Oh, I’ll capitalize it when it’s the proper name of a fictional character. And, in so doing, often have to make reference to the eponymous confusion, akin to somebody who names a d*g, “D*g.”

        In this instance, “God” is the most popular nickname for the god originally named, “YHWH.” But, “Oh my YHWH!” doesn’t quite sound right, so, “Oh my God!” it is!


            1. It’s…complicated.

              Joseph had two daddies; we know this from the official genealogies.

              Or, alternatively, if we are to take seriously the oft-repeated claims that there’s just no way that could be the case, then we must conclude that there were two Josephs, both married to Mary.

              Jesus had Joseph (and Joseph?) as a father. It was the Holy Spirit who impregnated Mary, so that’s another father. And, of course, he had God the Father as a father. And, since he (Jesus) and the Father are one, he has himself as a father. And the entire trinity is also its own singular entity, somehow, so that’s another father.

              I hope somebody else is keeping track of all this, because I sure can’t count that high….


    1. Oh My God will not stop being used by me. I love to say it for great effect, same with Jesus Christ. But from now on OMG will definitely translate to ¡Oh mi gato!

    2. Yeah I say oh my god all the time. I am a blasphemer through and through. It offends the holy which I sometimes feel a bit sad about but oh well. ’tis the hazards of being my friend/coworker/passerby.

  2. I wish there were some secular, non-theistic oaths to replace expressions like OMG et al. Are there? If someone has created a website, dictionary, etc, please point me to it. In the meantime, I must continue to use expressions such as OMG, JCA, JMJ, etc.

    There’s “goats and monkeys” from “Othello”, but it just doesn’t have the same recognition factor/power as phrases like OMG.

        1. Being a god is pretty much part of the job description for an emperor. I’m hard pressed to think of one who didn’t, at a minimum, trace his heritage back to some heavenly figure or some such.


  3. When I say Oh My God, it does not refer to any specific deity.

    Just like when I say “Oh shit” it does not refer to a specific pile of fecal matter.

        1. Excellent point. It is always possible that somebody, somewhere, considers that pile of shit to be worthy of worship; and, conversely, that any given god could be the intrusion into our spacetime continuum of the pile of shit shat out by some pandimensional hyperalien.


      1. Yeah, where I grew up ‘gesundheit’ was almost as common as ‘bless you’, maybe even more so among the older generation, so it sounds normal to my ear. I have to admit that I didn’t really use it regularly, though, until I wanted a substitute for ‘bless you’. I’ll use ‘salud’ quite a bit, too.

    1. Just don’t breath and leave the room. That may seem impolite, but a sneeze can carry germs several meters away from the sneezer. On an airplane you are basically screwed.

  4. “Oh Meine Guete” (= oh my goodness, oh my gosh)
    which actually is used by some German speakers and avoids the g*d word too,


  5. Ever since I found the FFRF, I’ve been replacing OMG with OMD. OH MY DOG.

    – – – BEWARE OF DOGMA – – –

  6. I feel no need at all to change my habitual exclamations to get rid of references to any mythological beings. I would be happy to explain to anyone how wrong they are if they think, upon hearing me so exlaim, that I must therefore believe in said mythological creatures, or must in some way be supportive of belief in such beings.

    1. It’s a lot like those who get their rocks off declaring that we must accept Jesus because we number the year from his birth. Even if that’s true, it just means that the Christians must accept, for example, Thor, for the celebrate his birth every Thursday — and this whole month of March is a celebration of Mars.


        1. Quite the contrary!

          First, of course, as Humpty Dumpty enlightened us, the real question is whether you master the word or the word masters you.

          But, in this particular case, since the word is quite new — and therefore young and defenseless — you can very easily define it however you like. And who’s to tell you the definition isn’t right?

          So: obseeeive. noun. That blurry film that results from putting an ointment in your eye.

          See? Trivial.


  7. It was originally invented in 1917 by Lord Fisher, in a letter to Winston Churchill. I have the first publication of it in my collection. Well removed from the way we use it today.

  8. The teenager says “Oh, my goodness!” whenever this parental unit suggests something unthinkably horrible, e.g. that said teenager should plan ahead, help with some housework, or go to bed.

  9. …I’ve adopted “oh, my goosebumps!” whenever something gets my hackles up, since I first heard Taslima Nasreen use it—and it also brings to mind, “ermahgerd, gersberms er mah favrit berks!”

  10. I never say Bless you. Always have said Gesundheit, which just means health. My fairly Catholic Salvadoran sister in law says Jesus! (pronounced Hay-zeuuuuuuus!)

          1. I got so angry at my Mac not allowing me to delete a file as root from the terminal today, I briefly thought about a Linux box….but only briefly.

  11. Oh my Goat! I attend an occasional luncheon dubbed a goat fest. The convener carries the acronym GPG (Grand Pooh-bah Goat). All Hail the Goat…. So what else could OMG stand for?

  12. Good god, at this point if someone’s being a pedant about OMG you can claim rhetorical usage of the letters all by themselves. As with many other acronyms, people will literally say “O-M-G” as an expression independent of its origin. “FUBAR,” and “SNAFU” are a few examples of acronyms which, though pronounced as words, are still acronyms which will almost certainly avoid scrutiny when used in a setting where profanity is prohibited. Why would “OMG” be different in an atheistic setting? It’s an expression for god’s sake!

    1. I rather like SNAFU, and its derivative FUBAR (F***ed up beyond all recognition) and its superlative FUBB (F***ed up beyond belief).

      But those are really adjectives rather than exclamations.

      1. A nice distinction, I’ll still maintain that whether someone is saying “lawl” “omg” or “snafu” they are all examples of someone expressing something without necessarily appealing to the words the letters stand for. “Lawl” (LOL) being case in point, being an ironic play on our use of acronyms in verbal discourse.

          1. Yep, that is correct, Snafu is a sort of compound noun where Fubar and Fubb are adjectives. As Benjamin implied, they all get used as loose descriptions where their syntactical category isn’t very significant.

  13. I still prefer O Mai Ceiling Cat–OMCC. While the professor knows what he means, not everyone will. As a fellow retired Jew, I had drilled into me the concept of The Appearance of Impropriety. It is not enough to do right; you must avoid the appearance of doing wrong.

  14. I don’t mind the OMG. In fact I use “Oh my gawd!” a lot in real life. I love using the nonexistent lord’s name in vain.

      1. I like cussing. And I particularly like doing things which somebody has explicitly ordered me not to do.

        So if I can simultaneously offend both the religious (by taking the name of their god in vain) AND atheists (who think it gives credence to g*d) then as far as I’m concerned it’s Win-Win.

        [Evil cackle of laughter]

        God, that felt good…

  15. I thought one of the benefits of being an atheist is that it frees us up from all these trivial rules and taboos that ultimately mean nothing.

    It’s true that I avoid the phrase “oh my god” on sites where I argue against theists because they do then tend to bring it up as a petty distraction point.

    However, in other cases I’ll continue to use it much as I’ll tell a theist, who thinks it is worse to burn the Koran than a person, to go to hell even though I know that place doesn’t exist either.

  16. As a Manchester City fan, I found myself angrily shouting “Ohhh, Messi’s good!!” During the Barca-City champions league tie last week.

Leave a Reply