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A three-letter acronym (TLA), or three-letter abbreviation, is an abbreviation consisting of three letters. These are usually the initial letters of the words of the phrase abbreviated, and are written in capital letters (upper case); three-letter abbreviations such as etc. and Mrs. are not three-letter acronyms, but "TLA" itself is a TLA (an example of an autological abbreviation).
Most three-letter abbreviations are not, strictly, acronyms, but rather initialisms: all the letters are pronounced as the names of letters, as in APA // AY-pee-AY. Some are true acronyms, pronounced as a word: as with computed axial tomography, for example, CAT is almost always pronounced as the animal's name ( // ) in "CAT scan". Even the initialisms are however considered three-letter acronyms, because that term appeared first in widespread use, and is overwhelmingly popular today.
The exact phrase three-letter acronym appeared in the sociology literature in 1975.Three-letter acronyms were used as mnemonics in biological sciences, from 1977 and their practical advantage was promoted by Weber in 1982. They are used in many other fields, but the term TLA is particularly associated with computing. In 1980, the manual for the Sinclair ZX81 home computer used and explained TLA. The specific generation of three-letter acronyms in computing was mentioned in a JPL report of 1982. In 1988, in a paper titled "On the Cruelty of Really Teaching Computing Science", eminent computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra wrote (disparagingly), "No endeavour is respectable these days without a TLA" By 1992 it was in a Microsoft handbook.
The number of possible three-letter abbreviations using the 26 letters of the alphabet from A to Z (AAA, AAB, ... to ZZY, ZZZ) is 26 × 26 × 26 = 17,576. An additional 26 × 26 × 10 = 6760 can be produced for each single position allowed to be a digit 0-9, such as 2FA, P2P, or WW2, giving a total of 37,856 such three-character strings.
In standard English, WWW is the TLA whose pronunciation requires the most syllables—typically nine. The usefulness of TLAs typically comes from its being quicker to say than the phrase it represents; however saying 'WWW' in English requires three times as many syllables as the phrase it is meant to abbreviate (World Wide Web). "WWW" is sometimes abbreviated to "dubdubdub" in speech.
An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv., or abbrev.; NPO, for nil per (by) os (mouth) is an abbreviated medical instruction. It may also consist of initials only, a mixture of initials and words, or words or letters representing words in another language. Some types of abbreviations are acronyms or grammatical contractions or crasis.
The ZX81 is a home computer that was produced by Sinclair Research and manufactured in Dundee, Scotland, by Timex Corporation. It was launched in the United Kingdom in March 1981 as the successor to Sinclair's ZX80 and designed to be a low-cost introduction to home computing for the general public. It was hugely successful; more than 1.5 million units were sold. In the United States it was initially sold as the ZX-81 under licence by Timex. Timex later produced its own versions of the ZX81: the Timex Sinclair 1000 and Timex Sinclair 1500. Unauthorized ZX81 clones were produced in several countries.
A recursive acronym is an acronym that refers to itself, and appears most frequently in computer programming. The term was first used in print in 1979 in Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, in which Hofstadter invents the acronym GOD, meaning "GOD Over Djinn", to help explain infinite series, and describes it as a recursive acronym. Other references followed, however the concept was used as early as 1968 in John Brunner's science fiction novel Stand on Zanzibar. In the story, the acronym EPT later morphed into "Eptification for Particular Task".
Estonian orthography is the system used for writing the Estonian language and is based on the Latin alphabet. The Estonian orthography is generally guided by phonemic principles, with each grapheme corresponding to one phoneme.
The Burmese alphabet is an abugida used for writing Burmese. It is ultimately adapted from a Brahmic script, either the Kadamba or Pallava alphabet of South India. The Burmese alphabet is also used for the liturgical languages of Pali and Sanskrit. In recent decades, other, related alphabets, such as Shan and modern Mon, have been restructured according to the standard of the Burmese alphabet
Sinclair BASIC is a dialect of the programming language BASIC used in the 8-bit home computers from Sinclair Research, Timex Sinclair and Amstrad. The Sinclair BASIC interpreter was written by Nine Tiles Networks Ltd.
Psi is the twenty-third and penultimate letter of the Greek alphabet and is associated with a numeric value of 700. In both Classical and Modern Greek, the letter indicates the combination.
Khmer script is an abugida (alphasyllabary) script used to write the Khmer language, the official language of Cambodia. It is also used to write Pali in the Buddhist liturgy of Cambodia and Thailand.
An acronym is a word or name consisting of parts of the full name's words. Sometimes, initialism or alphabetism is used to refer to acronyms formed from the string of initials which are usually pronounced as individual letters, as in the FBI . But acronyms sometimes use syllables instead, as in Benelux, NAPOCOR, and TRANSCO. They can also be a mixture, as in radar and MIDAS.
Scribal abbreviations or sigla are abbreviations used by ancient and medieval scribes writing in various languages, including Latin, Greek, Old English and Old Norse.
A numeronym is a number-based word. Most commonly, a numeronym is a word where a number is used to form an abbreviation. Pronouncing the letters and numbers may sound similar to the full word, as in "K9" for "canine, relating to dogs". Alternatively, letters between the first and last letters of a word may be replaced by a number representing the number of letters omitted, such as in "i18n" for "internationalization" where "18" stands in for the word's middle eighteen letters ("nternationalizatio"). Sometimes the last letter is also counted and omitted. These word shortenings are sometimes called alphanumeric acronyms, alphanumeric abbreviations, or numerical contractions. According to Tex Texin, the first numeronym of this kind was "S12n", the electronic mail account name given to Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) employee Jan Scherpenhuizen by a system administrator because his surname was too long to be an account name. By 1985, colleagues who found Jan's name unpronounceable often referred to him verbally as "S12n" (ess-twelve-en). The use of such numeronyms became part of DEC corporate culture.
Abbreviated and contracted words are a common feature of Japanese. Long words are often contracted into shorter forms, which then become the predominant forms. For example, the University of Tokyo, in Japanese Tōkyō Daigaku (東京大学) becomes Tōdai (東大), and "remote control", rimōto kontorōru (リモートコントロール), becomes rimokon (リモコン). Names are also contracted in this way. For example, Takuya Kimura, in Japanese Kimura Takuya, an entertainer, is referred to as Kimutaku.
Hungarian orthography consists of rules defining the standard written form of the Hungarian language. It includes the spelling of lexical words, proper nouns and foreign words (loanwords) in themselves, with suffixes, and in compounds, as well as the hyphenation of words, punctuation, abbreviations, collation, and other information.
WWW is an initialism for World Wide Web. In English, WWW is the longest possible three-letter abbreviation when spoken, requiring six to nine syllables, depending on how it is pronounced, whereas the twelve letters in "World Wide Web" are pronounced with three syllables. The English writer Douglas Adams once quipped:
The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for.
Abbreviations are a common part of the Hebrew language, with many organizations, places, people and concepts known by their abbreviations.
English Braille, also known as Grade 2 Braille, is the braille alphabet used for English. It consists of around 250 letters (phonograms), numerals, punctuation, formatting marks, contractions, and abbreviations (logograms). Some English Braille letters, such as ⠡⟨ch⟩, correspond to more than one letter in print.
Stephen Joseph Herben Jr. was an American professor of philology at Bryn Mawr College. He specialized in English and German philology, and among other places did work at the American-Scandinavian Foundation in Copenhagen and Oxford University, as well as at Rutgers, Princeton, and Stanford University. His work included assistance with the etymological work of the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary, and two articles on medieval literary descriptions of weapons and armor. The second of these articles, "Arms and Armour in Chaucer", is still considered a standard on the subject.
The acronyms DSE and DNA have something in common: each is a three-letter acronym.
All taxa indicated by three-letter acronyms with strains indicated by a fourth letter if necessary.