I have looked in a number of places, with contradictory results.
The Urban Dictionary provides a whopping 73 "explanations", of which I will quote just a few. (Original spelling and punctuation preserved.)
- ZOMG is a variant of the all-too-popular acronym "OMG", meaning "Oh My God". ZOMG originated from the image-board 4chan.org and one of it's members Zardoz.
Even though 4chan is the Internet meme machine, I would like to see supporting evidence for this particular claim.
- zOMG is a variant of the all-too-popular acronym "OMG", meaning "Oh My God". The "z" was originally a mistake while attempting to hit the shift key with the left hand, and type "OMG"
The first sentence is copied verbatim from the previous (and older) explanation, with the "Z" changed into a "z". It appears that the author hasn't quite thought it through — if you mistakenly hit Z instead of Shift, you'll end up with "zomg", not with "zOMG". Besides, on my keyboard, there's the > key between the Z and the left shift key.
- A more enthusiastic (if not sarcastic) way of saying OMG. The Z doesn't stand for anything, but rather is added onto the O, thus making it pronounced "ZOH MY GOD!!1"
Doesn't address the origin and is not very convincing anyway — why "Z" and not "S", "X", "W", "J", or in fact any letter?
- ZOMG was the ruler of the planet XYRZON until 2451 AD, when he was overthrown by KFOP after the battle of SHMUR.
- zombies! oh my god!
This is actually the most convincing so far, since over at the Wiktionary I am told that ZOMG is an initialism. Then again, I am not told anything about etymology, and in the usage notes for OMG, I am told that ZOMG is "emphatic, in the same sense of LOLZ". Which contradicts the idea that it's an initialism.
On the talk page for ZOMG, there's only this brief exchange:
This entry should be amended to note that the "z" is added emphasis from the common typo committed when hitting the "shift" key. [Unsigned, but the history attributes this to Adjwilli, 19:50, 4 November 2008]
- Except that it's not: see . Unfortunately, although this FAQ is accurate, the fact that it has not been cited in a reliable source means that we cannot include it on Wiktionary. Shii 14:21, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
That last link is dead, so I went to archive.org and dug up an old copy of the page:
ZOMG was originally coined in January 2003 by two individuals, James Curbo and Matthew Milan, over ICQ
The following chat log may or may not be exact, so apocraphycal information has been used to recreate this event.
Hannibal Smith: d00der!
Rick Feynman: zomg!
Hannibal Smith: ZOMG!
Rick Feynman: fag! ZOMG!
I can see why reliable sources are hesitant to cite this FAQ, especially given the fact that it was written by Matthew Milan himself.
Lastly, over at The Free Dictionary, I am told that ZOMG is an acronym with the following definitions:
- Zoh My God! (gaming, World of Warcraft)
- Zombies Oh My God
- Zeus, Oh My God
- Zerg! Oh My God!
- Zebras on my Grass (gaming clan)
Now I am utterly confused. Some of these suspiciously look like backronyms.
So, can anyone, by any chance, provide a definite answer on the origin of ZOMG? Or is it lost forever?