Home > Uncategorized > TOTA: More than Just a Made-up Acronym

TOTA: More than Just a Made-up Acronym

It has long been an ambition of mine to successfully introduce an acronym into common usage.  Another is to perjure myself before a Royal Commission*; yet another to win a supporting actor Golden Globe only to miss out on the Oscar in a shock upset.

So, as part of my “how can one person have frittered four decades away so  wantonly?” campaign to rescue my life from abject pointlessness, I have determined to plow ahead with at least one of my goals before I am too cranky and tired to bother.

This brings me to TOTA, the newest acronym in the world and possibly among the best.  (First, a disclaimer: others played part in coming up with TOTA but remember: my ambition is to bring it into common usage — not necessarily to invent it, at least not on my own.)

Acronyms, by definition, must stand for something.  In TOTA’s case, it is:

There or Thereabouts

I appreciate that a pedant may insist that the correct acronym here is TOT since the A is part of a T-word.  But I have thought deeply about this, and decided that such sticklers can get stuffed.  TOTA is better, and I like it.

TOTA — there or thereabouts — captures the essence of a world-view, an ethos if you will.  The phrase “near enough is good enough” is perhaps the closest but NEIGE is a terrible acronym, except that it rhymes with beige which seems fitting.

TOTA’s brilliance as a word is aided no end by its readiness to adaptation.  A builder who hammers nails without particular accuracy or enthusiasm could be described by their dissatisfied customer as “totanic”.  The very same builder could shrug at the small claims hearing that ensues and tell the JP, “I admit it, I am a Totanist.”  A flora expert who tends to casually misidentify plant species could be hilariously derided as a totanic botanist or, indeed, vice versa.  A consultant who forgets to delete his former client’s logo from a pitch presentation could self-deprecatingly and with disarming wit declare himself “totally TOTA”.

The applications are endless, but it also fills a legitimate and readily identifiable void in our language.  The words “perfectionist” and, more colloquially, “anal” are bandied about willy-nilly but what and where are the antonyms?

“Lazy” doesn’t capture it.  A person can be a lazy perfectionist — they just do very few things with great care and attention to detail.  “Approximate” is too, well, approximate.  TOTA nails the thing — well, close enough anyway.

*A Senate hearing, or any kind of Upper House inquiry will suffice — I am running out of years.

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