What is HODL? Here’s a guide to 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:

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HODL is a term that means “hold” and later became the backronym, “hold on for dear life.” It is perhaps the most popular cryptocurrency term, which 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. You will see this term used often on your favorite crypto website’s trollbox.


Altcoin is a term that describes any crypto which isn’t Bitcoin. 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. Today, some crypto traders invest in altcoins as part of a balanced portfolio or use them to hedge their Bitcoin investment.

Circulating supply

Circulating supply refers to the total number of tokens any particular cryptocurrency has in circulation. Unlike fiat currencies (government-issued currencies, such as USD), it is easier to track the total amount of tokens a certain cryptocurrency has. 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

A market cap is 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.


ICO is short for “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.


Arbitrage is the act of utilising the differences between the spreads offered by different cryptocurrency exchanges to make a profit. It is a term borrowed from the world of traditional trading. 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.


FOMO is an abbreviation of “Fear of Missing Out.” While not used exclusively for the cryptocurrency space, FOMO 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.


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


A `whale’ is 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

Pump and dump is the practice of artificially making a crypto go up in value and then crash, to make a quick profit. The aforementioned whales sometime utilise this strategy. The process is fairly simple: They ‘pump’ a lot of money into a smaller cryptocurrency, build hype around it on social media (a practice called ‘Shilling), 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.


Bagholder is a term which describes an investor who failed to sell cryptocurrencies at a profit and is now holding ‘bags’ of tokens that are worth much less than the original investment.


REKT is a term that is used when someone is ‘wrecked,’ meaning that they have lost substantial amounts of money on a certain cryptocurrency. Similar to HODL, it is also an intentionally misspelled word.


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


FUD 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 (also called a FUDster). The term is usually used to criticize someone and to suggest they have an ulterior motive for spreading FUD.


BTD is short for “Buy The Dip” – this describes a situation when markets are falling and many traders and investors are selling in a panic. BTD is actually a recommendation to do the opposite and buy the cryptocurrency while it’s in a ‘dip.’ This notion is sometimes supported by technical analysts, if it is supported by known analysis formations, such as a squeeze in Bollinger Bands or “reaching a support line.”

To The Moon

To The Moon is a phrase that 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.”

Funds are Safu

Safu is a term that originated from a typo written by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, wanting to say “funds are safe,” following a report that the popular exchange had been hacked. The term quickly became the punchline for many jokes in the crypto community and inspired several viral videos. However, soon after, Binanace created the “Secure Asset Funds for Users” (SAFU), which made the term a real thing.

Buy Cryptocurrencies

Highly volatile investment product. Your capital is at risk. This is not investment advice.

Cryptocurrencies can fluctuate widely in prices and are therefore not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework. Your capital is at risk.