6
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A shot and two dances,
really don't know.

Seeing you double,
really in two.

That time already,
five o'clock, phew.

It's all a failure,
graded so low.

Number of letters:

3

Hint 1:

NATO involvement? You can't be serious. You must be joking.

Hint 2:

If you're not getting it you're probably thinking it.

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  • $\begingroup$ number of letters are usually given in cryptic clues. $\endgroup$ – manshu Apr 9 '16 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @manshu thanks, didn't realize that. Done :) ) $\endgroup$ – Paul Evans Apr 9 '16 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ NATO involvement and two dances reminds me of the NATO phonetic alphabet, where F=Foxtrott and T=Tango. $\endgroup$ – Gamow Apr 9 '16 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Gamow I was thinking exactly the same thing, where the shot is W = Whiskey $\endgroup$ – Wu33o Apr 9 '16 at 14:20
8
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The answer is:

WTF

The first pair of lines describes the full three-letter word:

A shot and two dances:

Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot from the NATO Alphabet (Hint 1)

The following three line pairs describe the three letters.

Seeing you double:

Reference to W (double-u)

5 o'clock

T-time = Tea time (credit to Gamow)

It's all a failure, graded so low:

The F is the lowest grade you can get, and will make you fail a class

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