Coinbase breaks down 11 of the most popular pieces of crypto lingo.
If you’ve spent any time reading crypto Reddit or Twitter, there’s a 100 percent chance you’ve encountered — and were potentially baffled – by a dense thicket of acronyms, misspelled words, gamer memes, and more. From FOMO and FUD to laser eyes and whales, get crypto-literate with this beginner’s guide to eleven of the most common pieces of slang.
Or as Elon Musk put it in a May tweet: 💎🙌. Diamond hands is a meme popularized by crypto and stock traders on Reddit. It connotes a hardcore adherence to the HODL philosophy (see below) — and is often used by online groups that have banded together to try to drive up the price of a memecoin or other asset. (The related-but-derogatory term for skittish traders? “Paper hands”/🧻🤲. )
Stands for “fear of missing out” — and is generally most intense when markets are rising fast. FOMO can lead to emotional trading and bad decision making — it’s dangerous because hindsight is 20/20, making it all too easy to regret the gains you would have made if you had only timed all your trades perfectly. (Nobody times all of their trades perfectly.)
A good way to reduce FOMO is to have a strategy and stick to it, especially if you believe that the asset you’re investing in will rise in value over the longer term. One popular option is dollar-cost averaging (or DCA), in which you invest the same amount every week or month without worrying about what the market is doing.
Stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It’s a classic public relations and propaganda tactic. The idea is to warp public perception about a product, technology, or candidate by strategically releasing misinformation designed to create a negative emotional response.
Mainframe-computer architect and entrepreneur Gene Amdahl is often credited with popularizing the term in the 1980s. He used it to describe the way IBM salespeople of the era worked to delegitimize competitors’ products, painting them as unreliable and untrustworthy.
In the crypto space, FUD often refers to general skepticism around the technology (from the media or from traditional-finance analysts), but the idea can also be used by proponents of a specific token or protocol in an attempt to disarm criticism.
What should you do when faced with FUD? Embrace another popular crypto acronym, and DYOR. Do your own research.
The flippening is a hypothetical event in which Ethereum’s market cap will one day eclipse Bitcoin’s. It can also be used to describe any similar situation where a smaller or less-established token or protocol might overtake a larger rival.
HODL is probably the most prevalent piece of crypto slang. It originally came from a drunken typo in the subject line of a 2013 Bitcoin forum post: “I AM HODLING”. (It should have read “holding.”)
HODL — usually pronounced “hoddle” — simply means to buy and hold for the long term, no matter what the market is doing. Bitcoin fans have even retroactively turned it into an acronym that stands for “hold on for dear life.”
The original forum post is riddled with typos, but the underlying message was prescient. At the time, Bitcoin’s value had plummeted from $1242 to $480 in a month. Panicked traders were bailing out, but GameKyuuubi — real name Mike, a programmer — wasn’t selling: “In a zero-sum game such as this,” he wrote, “traders can only take your money if you sell.”
The sentiment soon spread throughout the Bitcoin community and countless memes ensued. Crypto has experienced multiple bull and bear cycles, but so far at least, HODL has been good advice — with Bitcoin emerging as one of the best-performing assets of the last decade. (As mentioned in the FOMO entry above, one good way to HODL is via DCA.)
In 2021, avid Bitcoin proponents began signalling their support for the cryptocurrency by adding “laser eyes” to their Twitter photo. NFL superstar Tom Brady, Paris Hilton, Elon Musk, Wyoming senator Cynthia Lummis, and MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor are a few of the famous names who have taken part. The meme is often associated with the hashtag #LaserRayUntil100K — indicating support for the cryptocurrency’s potential to break the $100,000 mark.
Dogecoin (DOGE) is the original memecoin — it’s literally a cryptocurrency based on a meme that was popular around the time it was invented. But in 2021, when Dogecoin dramatically rose in value, a huge wave of other tokens with absurd names emerged (in part made possible by decentralized exchanges like Sushiswap, which allow anyone to easily list a token). In May 2021, Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin donated more than $1 billion in DOGE-inspired memecoins like AKITA, SHIB, and Dogelon Mars (ELON) towards COVID-relief efforts in India and other causes. The coins had been deposited in Buterin’s crypto wallet in an attempt to make traders believe he was an investor.
Moon (or mooning)
When a cryptocurrency is seeing strong upward momentum, traders tend to describe it as going “to the moon” or “mooning.”
Pump and dump
A coordinated effort to artificially inflate the price of an asset and cash out before it tumbles back to earth. Cryptocurrencies with smaller market caps are particularly vulnerable to pump and dump schemes. A group of traders will work together to drive up the price of a specific small-cap altcoin. As prices rise, the schemers will promote the opportunity on Twitter, Reddit, Discord, Facebook, YouTube comments, and elsewhere, attracting more investors and driving the price up further. When the asset hit their target value, the original group will cash out — taking big profits and leaving everyone else “holding the bag” as the token collapses.
What happens if you get swept up by FOMO and end up becoming the victim of a pump and dump? You get rekt. Getting rekt in its original gaming context means to lose badly, and the definition is pretty much the same in crypto.
The biggest holders of crypto are known as whales. For Bitcoin, anyone with more than 1000 BTC is generally considered a whale. Unlike the vast majority of crypto traders, whales have the potential to move markets with their trades. As of mid-May 2021, the top 100 Bitcoin addresses (out of more than 800,000 active addresses) held more than 20 percent of all BTC according to bitinfocharts.com.