OMG, unfriended. WTF?

Although millennials seem to think they invented text-speak, having no concept of communication such as telegram or morse code, you might be surprised to learn that some of the words associated with social media were in use much earlier than you might expect.


In a letter from Admiral John Fisher, First Sea Lord, to Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty (later Prime Minister), on 9 September 1917, he wrote:

“I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G (Oh! My! God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!!”



Thomas Fuller (1607/8–1661), Church of England clergyman, wrote in The Appeal of Injured Innocence (1659)

“I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us”

Shakespeare also use it in Twelfth Night:

“Being skilless in these parts; which to a stranger, / Unguided and unfriended, often prove / Rough and unhospitable”

and in King Lear:

“Sir, will you, with those infirmities she owes—. / Unfriended, new adopted to our hate”


“What the fuck” has been part of the English language for several centuries as in “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” or “What the fuck are you doing with that axe?”.

“What the fuck??” (and it’s later abbreviation WTF) as an expression of surprise is somewhat more modern.

There is good evidence that WTF was in common usage by the US military during the development of the ARPANET (later the internet) from the 1970s and became popular in Usenet groups in the 1980s.

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