The crypto space is a nascent and dynamic sector of finance attracting all different kinds of people from around the world. With so much variation among the population of the space, crypto natives have developed their own dialect of unique crypto slang terms and acronyms to communicate various aspects of the industry.
Let’s break down 25 popular crypto slang terms to make your journey through the crypto space a bit easier to navigate.
Starting off with the first half of this crypto slang list, we’ll discuss all the various acronyms that crypto traders use.
HODL is one of the first crypto terms in the space to gain widespread adoption by the community. HODL stands for “Hold On for Dear Life,” and it carries some unique history which brought the term to the forefront of the crypto dictionary.
In December 2013, a bitcoin holder by the name of GameKyuubi typed a forum post titled “I AM HODLING” after the bitcoin price was cratering from its local high of $1,205. Though unintended, the misspelled “HODL” spread like wildfire throughout the crypto community, and the term has stuck ever since to indicate when crypto investors plan on holding their digital assets for the long term despite the volatility of the crypto markets.
BTD is a common acronym that stands for “Buy The Dip,” a popular phrase that crypto traders use when crypto prices drop by significant percentages. Traders “buy the dip” when prices are low to demonstrate their conviction in the particular crypto asset being traded.
DeFi is a popular crypto slang acronym for decentralized finance. DeFi represents a vast majority of the crypto ecosystem that enables participants to use their money for all sorts of different financial activities in the space, such as yield farming, staking, lending and borrowing, and more.
Major blockchain protocols like Ethereum, Solana, and others host vast arrays of different projects focused on DeFi, such as Ethereum’s AAVE, a decentralized lending protocol, or Solana’s Serum, a decentralized exchange for swapping tokens and staking assets.
While DeFi represents decentralized finance, crypto traders also sometimes use the terms “TradFi” or “CeFi” to describe traditional, or centralized, finance.
ATH means “All-Time High.” Crypto traders say “ATH” when talking about a particular token’s all-time high price.
For example, the current bitcoin ATH is $69,000. Rather than describing local peaks in price, the all-time high represents the highest price that a token has ever reached.
A DEX is short for a decentralized exchange. DEXs are a very popular way for crypto traders to swap tokens due to their reliability and permissionless nature. Anyone with a digital wallet and an internet connection can connect to a DEX and trade tokens.
When crypto markets get particularly busy, centralized exchanges can have a hard time maintaining smooth operation, and sometimes even crash due to high amounts of traffic. Since DEXs are decentralized, they don’t suffer from this problem nearly as often, as traffic is routed all around the world as opposed to one centralized source.
FUD is another very popular crypto slang term that crypto traders use. It stands for “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt,” which are three common emotions that traders share when their project is performing poorly or getting a lot of negative coverage.
If a trader believes in a project and someone else is spreading false or negative information about it, they may claim that the perpetrator is spreading FUD to mislead the crowd. If a project’s price is down, holders of the token may claim that the bad price action is due to FUD.
FOMO is a popular term used in the real world as well as crypto. FOMO means “Fear Of Missing Out,” which in the real world typically refers to missing out on a party or an event, whereas in crypto, FOMO usually refers to the fear of missing out on a token price pump.
When prices are low, bullish traders usually talk about how late buyers will FOMO into the top, which typically marks local peaks for price pumps. FOMO is an influential emotion in the crypto space and can be a real driver in moving asset prices; people “FOMO” into a project to not miss out on the potential run-up that a token might experience, causing sharp spikes in price that either eventually retrace or kick off a real price rally.
KYC stands for “Know-Your-Customer.” It refers to the common regulations placed on crypto exchanges to be able to identify the information of every user on the platform. By enforcing KYC requirements, exchanges are able to collect and report the proper information to authorities to enforce tax jurisdiction and identify bad actors in the space.
Most centralized exchanges, but not all, typically meet KYC requirements, however, most decentralized exchanges do not enforce KYC requirements, as permissionless accessibility is at the forefront of a decentralized product.
Lastly, probably one of the most important crypto slang acronyms to understand is DYOR. DYOR stands for “Do Your Own Research.” Traders use this term as advice for newcomers to the space. Since the crypto industry is saturated with new projects, doing your own research is crucial to making smart investment decisions when it can be very easy to make the wrong ones.
Additionally, a lot of the crypto community discusses projects online, making it quite easy for a new trader to simply copy the trading strategies of others online. More often than not, however, copy trading puts newcomers in very bad positions.
Doing your own research will not only help traders make wiser investment decisions but also breed conviction in a given project, making it easier to hold through volatile swings in the market. At the end of the day, each and every crypto trader is responsible for their own investment decisions, no matter who may have convinced them to buy into a given project.
Those are some of the most popular crypto slang acronyms used in the space. Now, let’s discuss some of the more popular terminology that often confuses newcomers.
The first crypto slang term is “altcoin.” Altcoins are alternative coins — they essentially represent any coin that is not bitcoin, the first mover of the crypto ecosystem.
Traders tend to enjoy altcoins for shorter term gains as they are more volatile than bitcoin. Keep in mind, however, that this volatility also means that altcoins are also riskier than bitcoin, as it works both to the upside as well as the downside.
Airdrops are basically rewards that project investors sometimes receive by completing certain actions, such as simply staking tokens, being an early investor in a project, or buying into a particular non-fungible token (NFT). Alternatively, airdrops can be won through giveaways and other various contests.
The vast majority of crypto airdrops end up losing value, but there are outliers which can be immensely profitable for traders.
For example, Bored Ape NFT holders, who initially minted their NFT for 0.08 ETH, roughly $190 at the time, ended up each receiving 10,094 APE tokens as an airdrop for holding their Bored Ape. These APE tokens at peak value ($23.63) were worth $238,521.22. Assuming a Bored Ape holder also held on to all their APE tokens, that airdrop is still worth $44,413 at the current APE price of $4.40.
Crypto natives use the term “REKT” when a project’s price takes a big hit or when a trader poorly executes on a bad trade. They wrecked, or REKT, their portfolio by taking a big loss.
Gamers originally used the term REKT when someone was dominated in a video game, and that lingo has since spilled over into the crypto space for describing poor investment decisions.
Scamcoin is a relatively derogatory crypto slang term that crypto traders use to describe projects that have exhibited malicious intent or outright fraudulent actions. Being such a nascent and quickly growing industry, crypto is rife with scams and bad actors seeking to make money however they can — hence why so many in the space stress the need to do your own research.
A rug pull is an unfortunate and common problem in the crypto space. Rug pulls are a form of scam in which developers attract unsuspecting investors to their project in order to throw money into it, then they pull out all the money they’ve made quickly, collapsing the project and leaving investors with worthless tokens. They are basically “pulling the rug” out from underneath investors’ feet.
Doing your own research is the best way to avoid this type of scam, and as a general rule of thumb: the deeper an investor dives out into the crypto waters – getting involved with smaller, unproven projects – the more likely they are to find themselves getting caught in a rug pull.
A whale in crypto is a term used to describe very large players and high net worth individuals in the space. Since they have more money to invest with, whales can collect large amounts of a project’s token supply.
Small retail investors, by contrast, are commonly referred to as shrimp, since they have much less capital to deploy.
Whales can sometimes be seen as a positive for a given project due to it having larger backing behind it, but whales can also be seen as a negative due to the centralization concerns that arise from having too many large stakeholders involved.
The term shill is used when traders promote or prop up a project they have invested in to showcase its benefits or upcoming upgrades. Shilling a project is typically viewed in a bad light as it shows that they are trying to convince others to “buy their bags.” They are financially incentivized to promote their project, so shilling comes across as disingenuous or malevolent.
Not all shilling is inherently bad though, as sometimes traders can gain valuable insight from others. However, it’s best to recognize other’s financial incentives and keep that fact at top of mind before deciding whether what they are shilling is valuable or not.
Sats is the short-hand word for “satoshis,” a term which bitcoin proponents have used to describe 1/100,000,000th of a bitcoin. Named after Bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, sats act like the cents of a dollar; just as there are 100 cents in a dollar, there are 100 million sats in a bitcoin.
Bitcoin advocates will commonly say that they are “stacking sats” to indicate that they are buying bitcoin.
Pump and Dump
Pump and dumps are a tried-and-true scam tactic found in both traditional finance as well as the crypto markets. As the name suggests, a pump and dump in crypto is when a group of insiders attempt to falsely promote a given project to artificially pump up its price so that they can cash out at a higher price and dump their holdings back on the market when it has attained a surge of interest.
Pump and dumps happen in the crypto space on a daily basis; however, it usually occurs among very small projects. Always be on the lookout for these potential price manipulations and be sure not to FOMO into any large, unexpected price pumps.
Bagholder is a crypto slang term that crypto natives use to describe investors who stubbornly hold onto their investments despite continual poor performance. Bagholders hope that their investments will rebound despite the likely reality that they will not.
Whether they have true conviction in their investments, or the price action simply caught them off guard, leading them to hold through one too many downturns, bagholding doesn’t tend to be enjoyable for any investor as they watch their portfolio value steadily decline over time.
The Lamborghini, or any luxury vehicle for that matter, has become a form of status symbol for success, both in the traditional financial sector as well as the crypto financial sector.
“When Lambo” is basically short for “when do I get my Lamborghini?” It’s a crypto meme that refers to investors’ impatience for seeing quick returns on their investment. As the crypto markets move very fast, so do its investors’ expectations in realizing returns. After initially buying into a digital asset, an investor may say “when lambo” as they expect their investment to make a lot of money but aren’t seeing the immediate returns that audacious crypto promoters tend to highlight.
The “flippening” is an event whenever Ethereum is performing particularly well in the crypto markets. Since bitcoin’s inception in 2009, the digital asset has held the number one position by market cap above all other cryptocurrencies. The “flippening” refers to the event of Ethereum flipping bitcoin to become the largest cryptocurrency by market cap.
While typically referring to Ethereum flipping bitcoin, “flippening” is also casually used to describe any particular crypto asset flipping another. It’s a term that has garnered popularity as a result of the competitive nature of the crypto ecosystem.
Vaporware is a term that describes a project that puts up a façade of all the technology it offers, while, in reality, there’s nothing substantial to back it up – the project is “nothing but vapor.”
With all the bad actors throughout the crypto space, there are always projects that get propped up on false technological claims that end up leaving investors disappointed. Vaporware projects are just another reason to emphasize the importance of doing your own research.
A no coiner is someone who doesn’t own any cryptocurrency. They could be no coiners for a multitude of reasons – like skepticism, ignorance, inability to invest, and more – but the term no coiner arose to describe this group of people.
People who only invest in Bitcoin are sometimes called “bitcoiners,” and those bitcoiners sometimes call people who invest in altcoins “altcoiners.” These labels have arisen to sort people into categories, though they may still miss the nuance of each individual investor.
In the current economic landscape, the vast majority of people across the globe are no coiners, which is largely the result of ignorance of the industry. Since crypto is an emerging technological landscape, there have been countless educational resources developed to help convert these no coiners into crypto investors.
Dust is a crypto slang term used to describe very small amounts of crypto leftover in someone’s crypto wallet. As traders need crypto to conduct trades and other DeFi practices, they usually keep small amounts of crypto in a wallet to make sure they can use DeFi smoothly. This crypto sometimes gets forgotten and lost on crypto wallets – it’s the dust that’s left behind from a trader’s actions.
Self-custody of one’s wealth is one of the core principles of crypto. As such, there have been numerous technologies developed to allow people to take self-custody of their digital assets, from digital wallets, to cold wallets, and more. All of these custody devices utilize what’s known as a seed phrase to keep them secure – it’s a randomized multi-word passcode that only the owner of the wallet knows. This group of words (usually 12 to 24) allows them to access their crypto and enables them to import their digital assets to another device in case theirs gets lost.
For example, if an investor has some bitcoin on a Ledger cold wallet and they dropped the wallet in the ocean, they would still be able to recover their funds by getting a new wallet and importing the seed phrase.
If you are considering taking self-custody of your crypto, it is crucial to copy the seed phrase down in a safe, physical location that you can reference in case you ever lose your device or forget the seed phrase.
Getting Up to Speed on Crypto Slang
Now that you have a better understanding of all the crypto slang that gets used by the community, it should make navigating the crypto water just a bit easier to understand and get involved in the conversation yourself.
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