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We’ve all experienced this feeling: you’re chatting with a group of people when someone drops an unfamiliar reference — everyone laughs while you awkwardly stand there, your hands in your pockets thinking, “wait, what?”
Or, if you’re just so cool that that’s never happened to you, picture this: you get a contract from a lawyer or employer that is filled with legalese. It’s nearly impenetrable, so you just sign it and move on with your life... praying nothing comes back to bite you.
Or a third example for the really cool lawyers out there: have you ever traveled to a country where you don’t speak the language? People are either dismissive or they treat you like an adult-sized child. It’s not that fun.
I’ve got nothing for the really cool, multi-lingual lawyers out there... but here’s my point: language matters. It’s a critical signal of group membership. So, today we’re breaking down some of the babble that has naturally emerged over the course of the crypto movement. Let’s dive in...
A Guide to the Best of Cryptobabble
Alts (or altcoins) - An “alt” is basically any cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin (but copied Bitcoin’s code and maybe made some minor alterations...). It’s not exactly derogatory, but many alts have seen rapid rises and subsequent declines (and thus have a slight association with pump and dump schemes).
Ape in (verb) - “Aping” (yes, like a gorilla 🦍) into a project is when someone invests nearly immediately after the launch of the project without conducting much research. This isn’t a terrible strategy during a wild bull market, but the music has stopped for a lot of apes over the years. As with all things investing, it’s usually best to do some research... lest you fall victim to a rug pull (which will be defined shortly).
Bitcoin Maximalism (noun) - The belief that Bitcoin and Bitcoin only should be the cryptocurrency of the future. Bitcoin maxis (pronounced “max-ee”) are deeply ideological. Their position is any effort spent on other projects is a detractor from Bitcoin’s ambitious goal. You can catch them on large plots of land in Montana or Wyoming, eating carnivore diets, wearing all black, and espousing the virtues of libertarianism.
“Buy the fing dip” or BTFD (verb) - A battle cry during the downturns, this cheer emanates from crypto loyalists (mainly over Twitter), encouraging fellow investors to purchase more crypto when the price plunges. If history is any guide, these people have a record of being right (sometimes it just takes a while).
dApp (noun) - ****Abbreviation of “decentralized app” (we talked about these briefly in the last email). Dapps, dApps, or dapps, are just frontend UIs (coded the regular way), with smart contract backends (i.e. coded the Blockchain way, which is a little different). Most dapps land somewhere in the realm of finance (DeFi) or online gaming. Additional use cases tbd!
Diamond hands 💎 🙌 (noun) - An expression for when someone holds on to an investment in the face of risk and volatility; or an investor who refuses to sell despite the likelihood of losing value (even when they should probably sell. AMC and Gamestop, looking at you). To be contrasted with “paper hands,**” a slur tossed at someone when they don't have the moxie to hold on. This term originated in the subreddit r/wallstreetbets (and is not exclusive to crypto).
“Few” - A reduction of the phrase “few understand this.” This one-word response is now tacked onto tweets as an indicator that not many people currently grasp what the author is saying (but presumably, someday their argument will be common knowledge). It’s become something of a meme and is used to ridicule crypto posts as much as support them (which I’m all for because it keeps things fun!).
FUD (noun) - An acronym for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” For example, “Seems like the author of that article summarized every piece of FUD he ever heard into a single PowerPoint.” Calling something FUD is an attempt to quickly dismiss concerns (no matter how valid) about crypto. Lots of FUD is just FUD, some of it, however, is legitimate!
Gas (noun) - Yes, like gasoline, is the name of the fees required to interact with smart contracts on Ethereum’s blockchain. For example, if you wanted to buy an NFT on OpenSea (a centralized NFT marketplace), you would have to pay for the NFT with ETH and pay a little extra ETH in gas to get your transaction onto the blockchain.
gm - The official greeting amongst crypto enthusiasts. In spite of being shorthand for “good morning”, you will see this phrase used throughout the day. Often accompanied by the word “fren”, as in “good morning friend.” Personally, I probably won’t ever use this phrase, but you’re welcome to.
Have fun staying poor - A personal favorite, just because it’s such an obtuse thing to say to someone... this was a popular retort to anyone fomenting FUD or criticism of crypto. The phrase is often attributed to Udi Wertheimer, a controversial figure in the space.
HODL (verb) - In 2013, as Bitcoin’s price was plummeting, a trader mistakenly wrote “hodl” instead of “hold” in the title of a post on a crypto forum. More explicitly, he said, “I AM HODLING.” Since, Bitcoin enthusiasts have adopted the term when the cryptocurrency falls in value, encouraging each other to show their bitcoin loyalty and hang on through the volatility. Side note: A few months ago, Andreesen Horowitz (a.k.a. a16z, the insanely successful VC firm that’s throwing gobs of money at crypto companies), updated their Twitter bio to “it’s time to buidl.” Intentional? We’ll never know...
KYC - “Know Your Customer” laws are SEC-enforced regulatory guardrails against fraud and money laundering. When you open an account with a bank, you have to give them your social security number. Same thing when you open an account with any legitimate crypto exchange (like Gemini and Coinbase). And same thing with EarlyBird... it’s just kinda the rules of the game.
NGMI - People in the crypto space will say that someone is “not gonna make it” when that person makes decisions that don’t reflect an optimistic long-term view of the (usually NFT) space. To be contrasted with “WAGMI” — “we’re all gonna make it” (which is now very much a part of Coinbase’s advertising).
No-coiner (noun) - Someone who holds no crypto (usually out of skepticism).
Rekt (adjective) - Getting rekt (“wrecked”) means suffering substantial losses. This is often associated with being a victim of rug pulls or other bad behavior.
Rug Pull (noun) - Rug pulls represent the worst behavior in the space. In the simplest terms, a rug pull is a pump and dump scam where the founders behind a new project make big promises, rally investors, market the hell out of their offering, raise a bunch of money when their token goes life, and then skip out with the cash. It’s a dirty move, but commonplace (at least at the fringes) when there is a massive technical/knowledge gap between the folks selling the dream, and people buying it.
Sats (noun) - A sat, short for a “satoshi” (in honor of Bitcoin’s creator) is the smallest denomination of a Bitcoin. There are 100 million sats in a single Bitcoin. Thus, at the time of writing this, one sat equals $0.0004365. Many Bitcoin investors stay clear of the news cycle and price movements and just “keep stacking sats” (stacking sats it’s sorta like dollar-cost averaging into traditional investments).
Shill (verb) - Shilling is the act of publicly going to bat for an asset that you hold, in hopes of getting others involved to drive up the price. Shilling is most commonly associated with altcoins.
“To the moon!” (expression) - Popular crypto excitement indicating that the price of a certain cryptocurrency is likely to skyrocket, often denoted with 🚀 🌔. Whether or not it actually happens can be a bit of a coin toss (lots of coins “mooned” in the bull market of 2021, and then proceeded to come right back down).
Whale (noun) - A person or institution with a LOT of crypto. For example, a Bitcoin whale holds more than 1,000 BTC (which would be a bit over $43m at the time of writing this). Whales are often early adopters who took a big gamble — and hung on long enough to watch it pay off.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little stroll down terminology lane. As with any cultural a la financial movement, this one is replete with its share in linguistic gems. In the final (bonus) post of this series, we’re going to bring it all home with a simple framework for thinking about investing in crypto for your kids.
Read Part 7 (the last post!) now...
This page contains general information and does not contain financial advice. All investments involve risk. Any hypothetical performance shown is for illustrative purposes only. Actual investment performance may be different for many reasons, including, but not limited to, market fluctuations, time horizon, taxes, and fees. Please consult a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional for investment guidance.