Learning the Lingo: Crypto Slang Essentials
If you're just starting out in the world of bitcoin and crypto, it's important to learn the lingo. Check out this guide to the most commonly used slang words and phrases.
First seen in a bitcointalk.org forum on December 18, 2013, user GameKyuubi posted a drunken rant in which they misspelled “hold” as “hodl.” The bitcoin community immediately took to the term, using it to describe the act of holding bitcoin through bear and bull markets. As HODL meme’d its way across the internet, it became a bitcoin battle cry, with investors vowing to never sell their bitcoin, no matter what the market conditions looked like. Bitcoin communities retrofitted the acronym HODL to mean “Hold On For Dear Life,” which colloquially describes bitcoin investors’ strategies during a bear market.
An acronym for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” FUD is crypto slang for any negative or scary news that could potentially impact crypto prices. Information that's FUD can be anything from a celebrity crypto critic to a change in government regulation. In FUD scenarios, the actual impact of the news is often overblown and is rarely as dire as originally thought, but it still may lead to a short-term sell-off in crypto prices. Famous FUD examples include the Mt. Gox hack, China’s bitcoin mining ban, South Korea’s crypto trading ban, Elon Musk's tweets about Bitcoin's energy consumption, Bitcoin's block size war, and more.
"The Fear Of Missing Out" is a crypto term used to describe the intense feeling of regret that comes with not investing in an asset with rapidly rising prices. With FOMO, investors see rising prices and "FOMO-in" to not miss out on potential profits. FOMO is often credited with driving crypto price bubbles as investors rush to buy an asset before it becomes too expensive.
A whale is a person or entity that owns a large amount of cryptocurrency. Whales are often blamed for price manipulation because they can single-handedly move markets by selling or buying large amounts of crypto. The transparency of blockchains enables crypto whale-watching, as crypto investors can track large transactions in real-time.
To be orange-pilled is to open one’s eyes to Bitcoin for the very first time. Using The Matrix's red-pill and the blue-pill imagery as inspiration, orange-pilling refers to the moment when someone first starts to see Bitcoin's potential and sees the world differently because of it. Bitcoiners often talk about orange-pilling their friends and family as they attempt to get them interested in Bitcoin and how it could potentially change the world.
Short for "Few Understand This," "few" is used to describe bitcoin concepts or projections that are framed as sagacious and only comprehensible to those in the know. "Few" is bitcoin speaks for saying that something is only understandable by bitcoin insiders and not by the general public — yet, at least. "Few" can also be used in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, as bitcoiner often uses it to describe information that's not that difficult to understand.
Diamond Hands — To have diamond hands is to be a crypto holder who’s unfazed by short-term price fluctuations. As diamonds are one of the strongest materials on Earth, crypto holders with diamond hands are said to be strong-willed and unyielding in their crypto convictions. No matter how low prices go, people with diamond hands refuse to sell and HODL until prices recover.
Contrary to diamond hands, paper-handed crypto holders are those who lack conviction in their crypto investments and sell at the first sign of trouble. To crypto investors, paper hands are weak, flimsy, and prone to ripping at the first sign of stress. Diamond-handed crypto investors tease paper-handed ones for their lack of mental fortitude to weather the turbulence in markets.
An acronym for "Not Gonna Make It," NGMI is used to describe people who don't have the stomach for crypto volatility and are unwilling or unable to take risks. NGMI refers to the fact that even if prices go down, some investors might not be able to continue holding and will have to sell at a loss. One might say that someone with paper hands is NGMI for not having the fortitude to hold through tough times. NGMI has been extrapolated to the broader culture, describing any behavior or action that's not conducive to success.
NGMI's polar opposite, WAGMI or "We're All Gonna Make It" is a crypto term used to describe the camaraderie and optimism within the crypto community. It's a rallying cry and affirmation that even though crypto prices might be down, the crypto community will continue to support and grow the industry until crypto becomes mainstream. WAGMI is often used to pump up crypto investors during tough times and to remind them that crypto adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. Like NGMI, WAGMI can be used more broadly any time someone wants to express optimism in the face of adversity.
An ironic crypto term, "Probably Nothing" is used to describe the possibility that an event or occurrence is quite significant. In crypto, Probably Nothing refers to the possibility that a crypto project or company that's not well-known might turn out to be the next big thing. On the contrary, if negative or worrisome information emerges about a crypto project or company, crypto investors will often use Probably Nothing to predict an impending sell-off, failure, or otherwise dangerous event.
Pump and Dump
Crypto slang for a scheme in which investors artificially inflate the price of an asset through false and misleading positive statements. Once investors "pump" the price of their project, they "dump" their assets, selling them at an inflated price and leaving investors "holding the bag."
ShillA crypto shill is someone who promotes a crypto project or asset, often in a disingenuous way to increase its price. Shilling is generally considered to be unethical behavior, as crypto shills often seek to profit from pumps that they help create. Shills might also be paid by a crypto project or company to generate buzz and promote their project. A favorite heuristic in crypto — if you have to shill a project, it's probably not a good one.
"Buy the Dip" is a crypto trading strategy in which investors buy assets when prices are down on the expectation that prices will rebound. BTD is often used as a general crypto trading strategy, as crypto markets are notoriously volatile. Many crypto investors believe that buying the dip is one of the best ways to make money in crypto.
"Dollar Cost Averaging" is an investment strategy in which investors purchase assets on a fixed schedule regardless of price. Statistically, those who DCA crypto tend to outperform those who attempt to time the market. DCAing takes the guesswork out of crypto investing, as crypto investors who DCA are less likely to make emotionally-driven decisions that lead to greater loss.
A crypto term used to describe the state of being "wrecked." In other words, to be "rekt" is to lose a lot of money.
A crypto term used to describe someone who doesn't own any crypto. Nocoiners are often seen as crypto outsiders who either don't understand the technology or actively choose not to invest in crypto.
A crypto term used to describe a "degenerate" or high-risk investor. Degenerate investors often take on more risk than is necessary to achieve their investment goals. Degens are often willing to lose all of their money to make a big score. Degen can be used both positively or negatively depending on who you ask.
A portmanteau of "hope" and "opium," hopium describes the sometimes irrational and emotional belief that a project will succeed despite all evidence to the contrary. Crypto fans jokingly (but sometimes genuinely) seek out hopium to numb themselves from the often harsh reality of crypto investing.