Crypto slang terms

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Robert has reported for a variety of international publications including the Associated Press, The Guardian, Vice, and Decrypt. Current areas of interest include the political economy of technology, cryptocurrencies, and privacy. Robert has a Bachelor of Science from UCL, and a Master's degree from the University of Oxford's Internet Institute.

If you want to get into crypto trading, it’s not just the technology that you’ll have to wrap your head around. If you read the missives, screeds, or tweets produced by the tight-knit crypto trading community, you’ll soon realize that they draw on a lexicon of dozens of slang terms and pieces of crypto jargon.

Cryptocurrency slang phrases like GM (Good morning), WAGMI (We’re All Going to Make It) are repeated incessantly in Telegram groups and Discord chats and in Twitter replies, and they can be confusing to anyone who isn’t familiar with them. To help you get started, we’ve curated a dictionary of some of the more popular words, phrases and acronyms.

GM: GM or gm simply stands for “Good morning,” and it’s the way many crypto traders start their day. You might read tweets that start with GM, or consist entirely of the two letters. You’ll see GM throughout Telegram price chats—it’s the waking call of the crypto native. Amusingly, most crypto Discord servers have a channel entirely devoted to spamming GM—shooting a GM to a chat is a way of checking in to the community.

NGMI/WAGMI: Not Going to Make It and We’re All Going To Make It. The first is a put-down to anyone who isn’t going to become insanely rich from crypto trading. Journalists, critics, and naysayers are usually NGMI, while crypto natives and forward thinkers usually are. WAGMI is usually pegged to the end of a message that defines some in-group who, usually by investing in a certain project, will soon become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Like most invocations of crypto trading slang, don’t interpret WAGMI and NGMI as financial advice.

DYOR: Do Your Own Research. Lots of blockchain projects pop up all the time, each of them vying for your investment dollars. However, lots of new projects are scams and you should research whatever you plan to invest in before you throw money at it. DYOR is a useful crypto term to know. It’s a way of reminding the investor to vet a project before investing. Commanding investors to DYOR is also a way of shirking responsibility—some NFT sales and ICOs sell out in minutes, making it infeasible to do one’s own research.

NFA: Not Financial Advice. Similar to DYOR, it’s a disclaimer tagged onto posts that reminds the reader that the writer is not advising you to do something. A lot of the time, if you deleted this disclaimer, the post would read as financial advice.

Rugged: Based on the term “rugpull,” “rugged” refers to a decentralized finance project that turned out to be nothing more than an exit scam. Rugged is invoked to attribute blame to scammy developers.

Rekt: Pronounced “wrecked,” rekt describes what happens if you lose your money to a bad crypto trade. Perhaps you didn’t DYOR, perhaps you fell victim to a Rugpull or a Pump and Dump Scheme. If you’re rekt, you’re in a bad place. curates a list of the biggest exploits and scams. Everyone who was a victim got rekt.

Bagholder: someone who holds lots of tokens that depreciate in value

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. This crypto acronym is used occasionally in the wider world but almost daily in crypto, a frothy, volatile market that rewards early investors. Investors who FOMO into projects do so because they are worried about missing out on the next big thing. It’s a gamble made out of panic after witnessing a steep price rise; sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

Wen Moon: When the price of a cryptocurrency rises, it goes To Da Moon—i.e., very high. Crypto traders might also refer to the Lambo—a price at which one can buy a Lamborghini. You might see traders asking Wen Moon? or Wen Lambo? when they vent their impatience about the lack of a meteoric price rise of a cryptocurrency project in which they have invested.

Fiat: Fiat refers to regular money, like the US or Canadian dollar, or the British pound. Fiat currencies are government currencies that aren’t backed by gold but have been declared legal tender. In crypto speak, they are the opposite of cryptocurrencies, which run on blockchains.

Whale: A whale is a trader who has the ability to move markets by selling or buying vast numbers of coins. There is no standardized definition as to what a whale is, but Glassnode defines a Bitcoin whale as an entity that controls between 1,000 and 5,000 Bitcoin.

SAFU: Safe. After the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, was hacked in 2018, the company’s CEO declared that “all funds are safe.” According to Binance’s etymology of the term (which makes no mention of the hack), a YouTuber called Bizonacci posted a viral video titled “Funds are Safu.” Binance quickly claimed the term for itself, naming a billion-dollar insurance fund the Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU). Beyond Binance, SAFU is interchangeable with safe.

HODL: HODL is another misspelling that caught on and became a key cryptocurrency slang word. It means hold, as in, to hold cryptocurrencies instead of selling them. HODL originates from a 2013 post by GameKyuubi on Bitcoin forum Bitcointalk that explains why he is still holding onto his Bitcoin despite its crashing price. His reasoning is that even though he knows he “SHOULD HAVE SOLD MOMENTS BEFORE EVERY SELL AND BOUGHT MOMENTS BEFORE EVERY BUY,” he is “a bad trader” and, as such, should hold. It has been reinterpreted as an acronym for “hold on for dear life,” which expresses a similar sentiment. You might come across the phrase “stacking sats,” in reference to people who accumulate masses of Bitcoin over time. A Bitcoin is worth 100 million sats.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This crypto phrase is used as a way to dismiss concerns about a cryptocurrency project under the claim that such concerns are merely attempts at sowing doubt, with the ultimate goal of crashing the price of a project. Sometimes this is true—FUD really just is propaganda by a rival project—while other times FUD is a convenient way to sweep problems under the rug.

Shill: Perhaps the opposite of a FUDster (someone who expresses doubt about a project), shills spread only good news. Its origin stretches back about 100 years, and refers to people who have been paid to conjure up interest in something without disclosing that they have been paid to do so. While old-time casino shills pretended that they had won big to encourage people to gamble, crypto shills pretend that they truly believe in a cryptocurrency without first disclosing that they have been paid to do so.

Flippening: A flippening is when one coin flips the market cap of another. If no context about the coins are given, it probably refers to predictions about Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, flipping the price of Bitcoin, the largest coin.

BTD/BTFD: Buy the Dip/ Buy The F—— Dip. This is advice that one should invest in a cryptocurrency that has recently crashed before, because, the speaker expects, it will quickly rise again. Some price crashes could be dips while others could signal the start of a death spiral.

Paper Hands/Diamond Hands: These terms, popularized by the Reddit forum that sparked the Gamestop and AMC surges, r/WallStreetBets, have made their way to crypto. Paper Hands refers to someone who sells their holdings too early. Diamond Hands are those who withstand risk and hold (or HODL in crypto-speak) their assets. Diamond hands is an exhortation to others that they should not sell—if too many people sell an asset, the price of that asset could crash.

No-coiner: A term used to refer to anyone who does not hold any cryptocurrencies, either for reasons of conflict of interest (several journalists prefer to stay out of crypto trading to remain objective), complexity (crypto trading is difficult) or because they object to cryptocurrencies. Because of the last reason, no-coiner is usually used as a pejorative used by crypto traders.

Airdrop: An airdrop is a free disbursement of cryptocurrencies. Airdrops are an increasingly common way of releasing new tokens by protocols that want to reward early adopters. Considered something akin to free money, airdrops on platforms like Uniswap made early users “thousandaires.”

dApp: A decentralized application that runs on the blockchain

DeFi: Decentralized finance. DeFi refers to non-custodial cryptocurrency protocols that offer financial services. Non-custodial means that nobody, not even the creators of the platform, control funds that are staked within the protocol. Instead, algorithms (and in some cases, community votes) determine how funds are allocated through liquidity pools. Common DeFi applications include lending protocols, decentralized exchanges (DEXes), and yield farms. A yield farm is a kind of crypto robo-advisor platform that sucks up governance tokens—the voting chips issued by DeFi protocols.

DEX/CEX. Decentralized exchange/Centralized exchange. DEXes are exchanges that run on code. The most popular DEX is called Uniswap, and the most popular type of DEX is the AMM, or automatic market maker. This is an exchange that facilitates token swaps in and out of vast liquidity pools. A CEX is a matching engine run by a company.

PoW/PoS: Proof-of-work/Proof-of-stake. Proof-of-work is the mechanism by which new Bitcoins and Ethereum coins are mined into existence. To mine crypto, powerful computers miners race to solve complex calculations. This is very resource-intensive and, since a lot of the power comes from fossil fuels, environmentally damaging. Proof-of-stake algorithms, which let those with the most money create new coins, are becoming more popular.

ICO: Initial Coin Offering. These are fundraisers that sell tokens for an upcoming project. You don’t see too many ICOs these days—the United States Securities and Exchange declared many of them to be illegal securities sales—but in 2017 and 2018, they raised billions.

NFT: Non-fungible Token. NFTs are unique cryptocurrency tokens that represent a claim over something else. This can be a piece of art, an in-game item, or a song. You can trade NFTs on marketplaces like OpenSea.

DAO: Decentralized Autonomous Organization. A DAO is a way for anonymous people to coordinate financially toward a shared goal. Crypto protocols create DAOs that let people vote on updates to the platforms. Some DAOs, like the Friends with Benefits DAO, function as exclusive members clubs. DAOs are sometimes derisively referred to as “a Telegram chat with a treasury fund.”

Gas: Gas is the unit that describes how much you have to pay in transaction fees. On Ethereum, gas is either denominated in gwei, a tiny fraction of ETH, ETH itself, or in US dollars. Gas fees are dependent on the congestion of the network and change all the time.

Vaporware: Vaporware is a project that hasn’t been created yet, and exists only as a conceptual fever dream. If that project you’re investing in hasn’t been built yet, that’s an example of vaporware.

KYC: Know Your Customer. KYC refers to the anti-money laundering identity checks that exchanges perform before they onboard customers. These checks are conspicuously absent in decentralized finance protocols; this is because DeFi protocols exist within the crypto ecosystem—you’ll still have to go through a KYC-enabled portal, like an exchange, when you cash out your crypto.

LFG: Let’s F—-- Go. A rallying cry of the crypto trader. Coincidentally, an organization called the Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) shares the acronym. The Luna Foundation Guard bought billions of bitcoin to prop up the Terra stablecoin UST. The stablecoin crashed weeks later.

Degen: Short for degenerate. It refers to traders who take on significant risk in decentralized finance. These traders often “ape in” to a project – invest in something without conducting prior research.

‘Probably nothing’: An ironic way of saying that something is probably very important. It’s often in quotation marks, mocking disbelievers of crypto who dismissed its rise as ‘probably nothing’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Crypto jargon refers to the vast and esoteric crypto vocabulary used by traders, investors and crypto fans. These crypto slang terms shorten references to common occurrences, like the order to “HODL” or “hold onto your coins instead of selling them.

Crypto terminology might seem daunting at first—it adds an extra layer of complexity to a market that’s already difficult to understand—but it’s helpful if you’re trying to understand investor sentiment or trading notes issued by members of the crypto trading community. It’s fun, too: Much of crypto lingo is humorous, and the good cheer could help keep your spirits high in times of market crashes.

Last Updated June 9, 2022

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