The language of cryptocurrency trading

“I recommend you HODL for the ATH since this altcoin is going to the moon.” – Does this sentence make sense to you? If it doesn’t, you’re not alone. The cryptocurrency space and its rising popularity has spawned its own jargon, with many words and terms that might be confusing for those not familiar with the lingo. If you want to stay ahead and take part in the conversation, we’ve put together a jargon buster for you, so you can brush up on your cryptocurrency talk.


Perhaps the most popular cryptocurrency term, this word started out as a simple spelling mistake. In 2013, a member of the Bitcointalk forum wrote a post describing why he will be holding on to his tokens, despite the fact that markets were falling at the time. However, he mistakenly wrote “hodling” instead of “holding”. This typo became quite popular and eventually evolved into the backronym “HODL” which stands for “Hold on to dear life.”


While Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, it is certainly not the only one. However, when other cryptocurrencies began to emerge, since Bitcoin was so dominant, they were considered Bitcoin alternatives. Hence the name ‘Altcoin,’ which is short for ‘alternative’ coin.

Circulating supply

This refers to the total number of tokens any particular cryptocurrency has in circulation. For Bitcoin, Ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies, new tokens are added when miners allocate computing power to process transactions. Some of the commission they receive is added as new currency to the circulating supply.

Market cap

The overall value of all tokens that are currently in circulation for a specific cryptocurrency. The market cap, usually calculated in US Dollars, is an indication of how large the market for each specific cryptocurrency is.


Initial Coin Offering. An ICO is a process in which a company finances its operations by introducing a cryptocurrency of its own and offering it to early investors at a fixed price. Investors who take part in an ICO do it either because they believe in the company behind it, or with the hope that the tokens they receive will go up in value.


A term borrowed from the world of traditional trading, arbitrage is the act of utilizing the differences between the spreads offered by different cryptocurrency exchanges to make a profit. Instead of buying tokens and hoping they will go up in value, these traders buy cryptocurrencies on one exchange and then sell them on another, in which the spreads enable them to turn a profit. However, this practice is considered very risky, since spreads and fees could change unexpectedly, especially during times of high volatility.


While not used exclusively for the cryptocurrency space, Fear of Missing Out has become quite a popular term among traders. This describes a situation in which traders flock to invest in a certain crypto out of fear that it will rise in value and they might miss out on the opportunity.


Those familiar with the jargon of mainstream trading will recognize this term. A ‘bear’ is a trader or investor who believes a certain asset or market will go down in value. The term could be used both as a noun, and an adjective, i.e., “This cryptocurrency continued its bearish trend.”


Another reference to the animal kingdom, this term describes someone who has a lot of capital to invest. Whales can often move markets by investing a lot of money in a smaller cryptocurrency in order to make it go up in value.

Pump and dump

The aforementioned whales sometime utilize a strategy to make a quick profit. The process is fairly simple: They ‘pump’ a lot of money into a smaller cryptocurrency, the crypto goes up in value, other investors are attracted to the rising prices, which is when the original pumper ‘dumps’ the cryptocurrency for a profit.


This term refers to an investor who failed to sell their cryptocurrencies at a profit and is now holding ‘bags’ of tokens that are worth much less than that investor’s original investment.


Another misspelled word, this term is used when someone is ‘wrecked,’ meaning they have lost substantial amounts of money on a certain cryptocurrency.


Short for All-Time High – the point when a cryptocurrency reaches an unprecedented price.


This is an abbreviation of “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” and is often used to describe someone who is trying to convince people to sell a specific cryptocurrency. The term is usually used to criticize someone and to suggest they have an ulterior motive for spreading FUD.


“Buy The Dip” – this describes a situation when markets are falling and many traders and investors are selling out of panic. BTD is actually a recommendation to do the opposite and buy the cryptocurrency while it’s in a ‘dip.’

To The Moon

This describes a situation in which cryptocurrency traders are optimistic about a certain crypto’s direction. Basically, they believe the price will rise so high, it will go “To The Moon.”

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