|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.)