Word:

three-letter acronym

three-letter acronym - (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 = 17,576.)
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Three-decker
three-dimensional
three-dimensional figure
three-dimensional radar
three-dimensionality
three-figure
three-finger salute
Three-flowered
three-fourths
Three-handed
three-hitter
three-hundredth
three-lane
Three-leafed
Three-leaved nightshade
three-legged
-- three-letter acronym --
Three-lobed
Three-lobed leaf
three-membered
Three-mile
three-mile limit
Three-nerved
Three-nerved leaf
Three-parted
Three-parted leaf
three-party
three-piece
three-piece suit
Three-pile
Three-piled
Three-ply
three-point landing
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