ZOMG is a derivative of the internet shorthand term for "Oh My God", OMG. The term is commonly used to express humorously overwrought excitement and as a way of mocking internet slang as a whole. It is most likely representative of carelessly pressing the left shift key to capitalize "OMG" and hitting the adjacent "Z" key in the process. Some claim that it is an acronym for "zealous oh my god", but this is most likely a backronym (i.e. invented after the term itself).
ZOMG appears on various websites and message boards, often as part of trolling or attempts at wit. It is reasonably widespread today in the online anime and gaming communities, and is often used in its more ironic sense on internet pop-culture forums such as the IGN message boards or the World of Warcraft forums.
Because it is a form of written slang and is not commonly used in oral conversation, there is no consensus on how to pronounce it. Known pronunciations include /zɑmdʒ/, /zɑmgə/, /zoʊ ɛm dʒiː/, /zɑmdʒiː/, /ziː~zɛd oʊ ɛm dʒiː/, /ziː~zɛd oʊ maɪ gɑd/, or /zoʊ maɪ gɑd/.
ZOMG is often followed by a variation of LOL or by an excessive series of exclamation points often trailing into a numerical "1". This last convention implies mistyping in creating an exclamation mark on a standard qwerty keyboard. A common addition to the previous scenario is to append the word "one" after the numerical "1", e.g., "ZOMG!!!!!!1111one". Sometimes, this is extended to phrases such as "ZOMG!!!!1111onetwoeleventy11shift111". In some cases typists will go to extreme lengths such as typing "ZOMG!!!11!1one!1cos(0)". In each case, the sarcastic implication is that the typist lacks the wherewithal to type correctly.
In gaming communities, ZOMG is often followed by "hax", and cries of "ZOMG hax!" and the like may be heard when a player does anything especially impressive, implying (ironically or otherwise) that the player must be hacking the game to do so well.
Another meaning of the word suggests a usage as an odd child of the two words "Zing" and "OMG". This implies a more humorous nature to the word itself without the necessary implications of surprise that come with the acronym "OMG". Others suggest that "ZOMG hax" originally spawned in StarCraft, where a player could lose quickly to a Zerg player, leading the losing player to believe his opponent hacked in order to achieve such speed. Thus, "Zerg, OMG, hax" quickly becomes "ZOMG, hax."
The word has been widely adopted by the player community of Urban Dead, when referring or reacting to zombie aspects of the game.
Usage of the term ZOMG escalated at some point around 2004 or 2005, taking it from niche slang to a fairly widespread presence in many internet communities, particularly those connected with online games. It appears in chat logs dating back to 1999, and may have been in some use earlier. While many individuals claim to have been the one to invent or popularize ZOMG, there is scant evidence to support most of these assertions.
Several variations on the term are used on occasion. The letter Z is sometimes placed at the end, instead of or in addition to the Z at the beginning, yielding the less-common variants OMGZ and ZOMGZ. The deliberate mispelling ZMOG is used in some communities, particularly DeviantArt. Similar to the addition of an abbreviated expletive to OMG to form OMFG, ZOMFG is also possible. While the family of terms is often written in all-uppercase, all-lowercase and mixed-case are frequently employed as well.
Another variant of the word popular among members of the Alien Swarm community and 4chan is z0mg, replacing the letter O with a zero. When using the text to speech option that comes with Unreal Tournament 2004, the word is pronounced "zee zero milligrams".
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