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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
three-letter acronym
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(TLA) The canonical self-describing abbreviation for the name
of a species with which computing terminology is infested.
Examples include MCA, FTP, SNA, CPU, MMU, DMU,
FPU, TLA. For a complete list of the TLAs in this
dictionary, see TLAs.
Sometimes used by extension for any confusing acronym. People
who like this looser usage argue that not all TLAs have three
letters, just as not all four-letter words have four letters.
One also hears of "ETLA" (Extended Three-Letter Acronym) being
used to describe four-letter acronyms. The term "SFLA"
(Stupid Four-Letter Acronym) has also been reported.
See also YABA.
The self-effacing phrase "TDM TLA" (Too Damn Many...) is often
used to bemoan the plethora of TLAs in use. In 1989, a random
of the journalistic persuasion asked hacker Paul Boutin "What
do you think will be the biggest problem in computing in the
90s?" Paul's straight-faced response: "There are only 17,000
three-letter acronyms." (To be exact, there are 26^3 =