The crypto space is proud of being open to everyone, but actually, becoming a part of crypto is quite difficult. The space has a lot of unique slang it acquired over the years, which can leave newcomers confused. Many Web3
veterans have even tried to explain it to others and then wished they never did:
But learning the "crypto language" is important because otherwise, you may end up feeling like a guest in a private member's club. Here is a non-exhaustive glossary of crypto expressions you may or may not know the meaning of.
Disclaimer: some of these explanations are best guesses, and we're happy to make corrections. Also, the glossary refers purely to slang and not technical terminology.
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The original crypto meme that predates all others. Something like the Old Testament of crypto lingo. HODL
stands for hold on for dear life
and expresses the intention to not sell under any circumstances, no matter how bad the volatility gets. Often used in relation to Bitcoin. The origin of the expression is said to be here
Related to HODL. Investors that HODL are said to have diamond hands
, meaning they are not prepared to sell their holdings for any price. This probably originated during the Gamestop short squeeze in early 2021 when retail traders caused a price surge of a seemingly low-value stock.
The opposite is paper hands, referring to traders/investors who quickly sell their position when facing decreasing prices.
stands for fear of missing out
and is a well-known psychological concept that describes investors' mentality to be apprehensive of not profiting from upwards price movement. FOMO is a key concept in the cryptocurrency space as many coins almost exclusively base their marketing strategy on investors' anticipation of rising prices. A short history of FOMO is described here
is short for fear, uncertainty, and doubt
. It is a sales and marketing tactic that relates to spreading uncertainty and misinformation about a product to drive it out of business or reduce its price. In the cryptocurrency space, FUD relates to negative news about cryptocurrencies like government regulation, opponents speaking out about crypto, or falling prices (which can be caused by the former two). Crypto advocates often argue that traditional finance and the mainstream media try to spread FUD about crypto to complicate its adoption.
Calling a coin a shitcoin
is another way of saying it's worthless
. The term is used quite liberally, so depending on who you ask, even some of the most valuable coins may be shitcoins to them. Usually, though, shitcoins refer to cryptocurrencies without any obvious use case
Being an ape
into a project means investing in something without doing your due diligence on the coin. This is often due to FOMO, which makes investors turn into apes
in anticipation of quick and easy profits. The expression is sometimes accompanied by the according meme.
is short for buy the fucking dip
and describes an investment strategy focused on buying crypto when prices are down in anticipation that prices will rise eventually. This strategy often goes hand in hand with HODL since crypto prices can experience extensive corrections
BTFD usually comes with a meme (of which there are hundreds).
A degen is short for a degenerate and describes a person with a particularly risky investment strategy like buying shitcoins, trading with higher leverage, investing in highly risky projects, or a combination of all of the above. Both men and women can be degens.
GM is short for good morning and really is only that - a way of spreading positivity and wishing others a good day. We don't know where the expression originated and how it turned into a meme, but it has become one of the most ubiquitous memes in the web3 space. Other versions of GM (or Gm/gm) are gn (good night) and sometimes ga (good afternoon) and ge (good evening).
Gm is often accompanied by the popular Pepe meme:
NGMI stands for never/not going to make it and describes a person/company that employs the wrong tactics to succeed in the space, like not HODLing or relying on perceived old-fashioned marketing. The opposite thereof is WAGMI - we are all going to make it. It's a somewhat loose expression of positivity, in other words it will all turn out well. Both are related to the concept of "making it," becoming financially independent or wealthy by investing in cryptocurrencies (so one can stop working the job they dislike).
IYKYK is short for if you know you know, in other words being in on an inside joke. The expression is used liberally, either when a person really has valuable information about a project or similar, or ironically if a person is sharing commonly known information.
LFG is short for "let's fucking go" and is really only that - an expression of excitement. For instance, you may be inclined to tweet LFG if you BTFD and the price of the coin you bought increased significantly.
Looks rare is an ironic way of saying that an NFT
may be valuable (without actually knowing that). Since the value of most NFTs is determined by their rarity, one that looks rare and is rare will net you a profit. So you may take to social media and show off your NFT with a "looks rare" comment in the hope that is true.
Recently, a decentralized competitor to OpenSea called LooksRare
made use of the meme to launch its token.
"Probably nothing" and "Few" are expressions popularized by @bowtiedbull that spread to the entire web3 space. They are ironic ways of saying this is probably important or this is important but most people aren't aware of it.
(3,3) refers to a game-theoretic payout beneficial to both parties. It refers to the prisoner’s dilemma, where both parties are better off cooperating instead of defecting and receiving a (-3,-3) payout. The meme was popularized by Olympus DAO
to visualize the (perceived) benefits of staking
the OHM token. It was later copied by other protocols, replacing the (3,3) with emojis like (🌳,🌳).
is someone paid to promote a cryptocurrency and with a monetary interest in its success. Most shitcoins rely on shills to drive FOMO and create an impression of being more valuable than they are. Shills generally have large audiences on social media they acquired either through paid traffic or cooperating with other shills.
People that are overenthusiastic about a coin's prospects are labeled as moonbois
. Going to "the moon
" refers to a surge in price, either through marketing efforts or a fundamental increase in value.
Moonbois often tend to ask a project's leadership "when Lambo
. " In other words, they are overly concerned with profiting from a substantial price increase to be available to afford a Lamborghini. Nowadays, the expression is used almost exclusively in an ironic way to mock people that are focusing only on a coin's price.
Instead of "when Lambo
?" you may often see "wen Lambo
?" or "wen moon
?" on Twitter. This is another way of ridiculing people expecting quick and easy profits. Related to this is misspelling "what" on purpose like in "wat mean?" It is another way of poking fun of people asking simplistic or "stupid" questions.
Boomer refers to Baby Boomer and is used in a mocking way for people or concepts that are considered old and outdated. As the crypto space moves at breakneck speed, sometimes even fairly new concepts are considered "boomer." For instance, Bitcoin is sometimes mockingly referred to as Boomercoin (especially during corrections).
Boomer often comes with the accompanying meme.
A wagecuck is a derogatory way of referring to someone in regular employment. Sometimes, the term is also used ironically to self-identify as one. For instance, if you work a regular nine-to-five, you may say "I can't wait until Bitcoin moons and I can stop wagecucking."
Like many other expressions or descriptions, wagecucks have their own meme. They are often depicted to be working at McDonald’s, considered the epitome of a thankless and low-level job:
A pleb or normie is simply a person with little or no knowledge of cryptocurrencies and an average income. Sometimes, a pleb can also be a knowledgeable crypto investor that richer investors take advantage of. In other words, a pleb is just a regular person.
A fren is short for “friend” and can be either a real-life friend or someone you have a cordial relationship with on social media. Frens are generally depicted by the ubiquitous Pepe meme, which is a way of self-signaling being a part of the cryptocurrency and web3 space.
Referring to someone as ser is the same as "Sir" but is another common misspelling that has established itself in the scene. Supposedly, it is a way of mocking Indian and East Asian crypto participants for their excessive use of the word (although this connotation is probably unknown to most).
A gigabrain is someone with an excellent understanding of a concept in the crypto industry. Similarly, a gigachad is someone that has done something very impressive (but isn't necessarily related to intelligence). In essence, both expressions mean "very...". Particularly gigachads are often memed:
A smol brain or smooth brain is the opposite of a gigabrain and refers to someone considered uneducated or not knowing something that is seen as common knowledge.
"Anon" has become a popular way of addressing readers in crypto since most are anonymous. For instance, after a particularly bad day in the markets, you may read something like "Are you going to buy the dip, anon?" It's simply a way of speaking to the "silent majority" and has a slightly derisive connotation.
Another way of ridiculing concepts or people is adding an -oooor to their name and creating a meme that makes fun of their perceived preferences. For instance, The Angel Investoooor is being made fun of for the group's perceived excessive use of humble-bragging, educatory tweets, and risk diversification. -oooor memes are ubiquitous and spring up almost every other day, depending on what the sentiment in the scene is like.
is a misspelling of “wrecked”
and refers to someone that has lost their money in the markets. Often, it was due to excessive risk taken by buying shitcoins or trading with leverage.
Someone who is down bad or down horrendously is ironically announcing that they have taken a big hit to their position because the market moved against them. It's short of being rekt and can often be used for concepts unrelated to prices: "I got stuck trading the markets and forgot I had pizza ordered, down horrendously now."
Pump it or pamp it
and its counterpart dump it
is an ironic way of referring to the speculative and trend-driven nature of crypto. The meme comes almost always with one of the Bogdanoff Twins proverbially "pumping" or "dumping" the market. An obituary to the twins and their meaning for the space can be found here
A nuke refers to a sudden and hefty price correction in the markets. Since cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, prices have to go down by 10% or more to be considered a real nuke.
NFA is short for not financial advice, a disclaimer that the person is not qualified to give financial advice and their opinions should not be seen as such. It is often used in an ironic way to recommend a particular coin.
“In it for the tech” expresses the intention to be interested in cryptocurrencies not just for speculative purposes but "for the tech." Like almost anything in the space, its meaning is subverted and used either to mock those "in it for the tech" (recognizing that real-world utility is limited) or to talk about oneself in an ironic way.
“Can devs do something” is an ironic way of responding to negative price action. Presumably, the question (and following monologue) originated somewhere in the space without its ironic connotation and went viral through the interpretation of Hard Rock Nick, a popular influencer that voices memes in the space.
Copium and hopium are memes that spread from other niches to the crypto space and describe the irrational hope for prices to go up (or down). They come with a distinct Pepe meme.
“Bulla” and “bera” are common misspellings of bull and bear and refer to the market sentiment. We are not aware of where this or any of the other misspellings come from, but both come with their own memes.
“Funds are safu” presumably originated through Binance's Secure Asset Fund for Users
, an insurance for its traders. The meme may have also predated the fund since it refers to safety of funds in any project. It is also a dig at the Asian pronunciation of the word safe.
Rugged or a rug pull refers to a method of scamming users in the space by removing funds from a smart contract without their knowledge. A project's leadership may "pull the rug" and abscond with all money invested in it. "Rugged" is nowadays also used to describe unfair or illogical treatment. For instance, "I got rugged by the restaurant yesterday because I paid for the full menu but didn't get appetizers."
Hsbaf stands for holy shit bears are fucked. It relates to bullish market sentiment after an upwards price movement and makes fun of those that were short.
Hfsp is the acronym for “Have fun staying poor” and is a way of ridiculing those that have no investments in cryptocurrencies. It often goes together with or is interchangeable with NGMI, although some perceive it to be an arrogant way of addressing those not yet in crypto.
Clueless investors looking for quick and easy profits in dubious coins are often referred to as “exit liquidity.” The term can be used in a derogatory or sympathetic way. Sometimes shill accounts are revealed to use their followers as exit liquidity for tokens they promoted.
69 stands for the 69 sexual position (google it for an explanation), and 420 is an abbreviation for marihuana. It's not quite clear why these numbers are so prevalent in the space, but it is probably related to the ironic and trollish manner in which crypto people communicate. Both numbers are widespread; for instance, FTX raised $420 million
in a funding round, and El Salvador bought 420 BTC during a price dip
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