Ignore the FUD and HODL… A Guide to Talking Like a Cryptocurrency Insider

This article provides a quick glossary on introductory cryptocurrency terms and phrases.

According to Google, “What is Bitcoin?” was one of its biggest search queries in 2018. With cryptocurrency prices having fallen more than 80% from the highs seen in January of 2018, many are wondering what’s in store for the major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, XRP, and Ethereum in 2019.

If the predictions look grim, it’s worth remembering that, as Stan Schroeder writes in Mashable’s Crypto Blockchain 2018 Year in Review, “While the cryptocurrency bubble appears fully deflated on most charts, if you look closely, the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum are still far, far above than what they were just two years ago.”

No matter how things play out, there’s no question that cryptocurrency has spawned its own rapidly evolving language. For an outsider looking in, it can be difficult to keep up: Words get warped and swapped, memes take over, and next thing we know, language has mutated almost beyond meaning (didn’t Beat novelist William S. Burroughs say something about language being a virus from outer space?).

We’re here to bring it back down to earth, and help you decipher the cryptic (and volatile) world of cryptocurrency, one insider term at a time.


You never forget the first… altcoins are any cryptocurrencies that popped up after Bitcoin.


According to crypto-mythology, HODL entered the world when a drunken trader accidentally misspelled “hold” on bitcointalk.org in 2013. It’s since evolved as an acronym for “hold on for dear life” – something anyone whose bought cryptocurrency amidst the wild swings of the past two years and held steady can relate to.


Fear, uncertainty and doubt – as the world’s most eloquent paranoiac Thomas Pynchon says: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” Being a FUDster means pushing negative rumors about cryptocurrency.


A “whale” is someone who holds a substantial amount of a particular coin, enough to sway the markets in a favorable direction.


A smashing together of the term whale with the trader term “bear” – that is a trader or investor who believes a market is heading downwards. The term followed an incident in October 2014 when bitcoin was at $320 and a whale decided to place a sell order for 30,000 bitcoins at $300 forcing other exchanges to follow suit and sending the bitcoin market tumbling. The seller eventually posted on reddit under the name BearWhale, clarifying their decision.

The Flippening

A clunky word to describe anticipated paradigm shift where bitcoin is usurped by another cryptocurrency. Ethereum is currently one of the front-runners, though other altcoins are being tracked by Flippening Watch.


Borrowed from Wall Street, to be a bagholder is to HODL a cryptocurrency too long and take a huge loss when the value tanks. No one wants to be left holding the bag, right?


Sats, short for Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic creator of bitcoin, refers to (0.00000001), the tiniest fraction of a bitcoin which can be sent.


Initial Coin Offering, a fundraising scheme in the crypto-world, where an upstart will issue their own token in exchange for ether, using the Ethereum platform to fundraise.


Mooning is when a cryptocurrency’s price sees a spike. Sometimes users will capitalize on a slight increase to boast that their coin is headed “to the moon” in order to inflate the price.


Rekt is just a bastardization of the word “wrecked.” Within the cryptocurrency world, an investor who makes a bad trade – like selling right before their coin went supernova – “got rekt.”


A common rebuttal to newbies asking for tips, DYOR means “do your own research.” It’s a vital part of playing the cryptocurrency game, especially if you don’t want to get rekt.

When Lambo?

When lambo, as in how long until you’re filthy rich off your cryptocurrency investment and able to buy a Lamborghini? (This term might not be as widely used now as it once was, but hope springs eternal….)


A hyped virtual asset that can’t really back its claim and will likely turn your investment into vapor.

Genesis Block

The first block to be mined in a blockchain.


The mind-boggling (or overhyped depending on how you look at it) appearance earlier this year of the block with the hash:


It stirred up debate about time travel and the return of Satoshi for its similarity to the genesis block and supposed reference to 21e8, an elegant theory of everything.


Andrew Seale

Andrew Seale is a Toronto-based business writer who contributes frequently to Yahoo Canada Finance, The Globe and Mail's Report on Business and The Toronto Star.