51% attack or majority attack
an attack on a blockchain made possible when a single person or group gains control of over 50% of a blockchain’s hashing power, enabling them to block new transactions from being confirmed as well as change the ordering of new transactions. It also allows the malicious agents to essentially rewrite parts of the blockchain and reverse their own transactions, leading to an issue known as double spending. (CoinDesk)
airdrop
a distribution of a cryptocurrency token or an asset like an NFT, usually for free, to numerous wallet addresses. Airdrops are primarily implemented as a way of gaining attention and new followers, resulting in a larger user-base and a wider disbursement of coins. (Wikipedia)
algorithmic stablecoin
stablecoins that attempt to maintain their target value by implementing various market incentives and mint/burn techniques. These are distinct from asset-backed stablecoins, which ostensibly maintain reserves of U.S. dollars or other assets to back their price
allowlist / whitelist
an access list that guarantees a person the opportunity to mint a given NFT. This is used to prevent a mad dash to mint NFTs, a style of minting that is often gamed by bots for popular projects.
altcoin
"alternative" cryptocurrencies; that is, cryptocurrencies that aren't Bitcoin
annual percentage yield / APY
the rate of return on an investment, including the effect of compounding interest (Wikipedia)
apes
typically referring to the popular Bored Apes Yacht Club NFT project, "apes" has also become a slang term to refer to NFTs in general (regardless of what they depict)
audit
a process in which an individual or company checks a blockchain-based project for flaws in its code, as well as tries to determine the legitimacy of the project based on other factors (identity of its creators, etc.)
bad debt
debt that is no longer possible to be recovered (Investopedia)
Bitcoin maximalist / Bitcoin maxi
people who believe that Bitcoin is the only digital asset that will be needed in the future, and that all other digital currencies (and, in some cases, all other currencies) are inferior (Investopedia)
blockchain
a blockchain is a type of distributed database that is often decentralized across many different servers. Entries can be added to a blockchain, but typically can't be changed or erased without enormous difficulty and disruption to the network. There are many different blockchains; some of the best known include Bitcoin and Ethereum. (Wikipedia)
bridge
a blockchain bridge is a method of allowing different blockchains to interoperate, allowing users to use tokens in a currency tied to one blockchain to operate on another. (CoinMarketCap)
bug bounty
typically referred to funds distributed to ethical hackers in exchange for them privately disclosing software bugs to the company, crypto projects have taken to using the term "bug bounty" to also refer to ransom that is offered to hackers who have successfully stolen money, in exchange for them returning the funds and usually with promises that the affected platform won't seek prosecution
burning
the process in which users remove tokens from circulation. This can apply to various assets including cryptocurrencies, where it is done to reduce the number of coins in circulation, or to NFTs, where it makes the NFT impossible to ever trade again. The process of burning involves sending the token to a wallet address that is unable to send tokens, permanently locking it there. (Investopedia)
coin
a specific cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin)
cold wallet
a cryptocurrency wallet that is not Internet-connected, in contrast to a "hot wallet"
DAO / decentralized autonomous organization
an organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government (Wikipedia)
dApp / decentralized app
a computer application that runs on a decentralized computing system (Wikipedia)
DeFi / decentralized finance
a blockchain-based form of finance that does not rely on central financial intermediaries such as brokerages, exchanges, or banks to offer traditional financial instruments, and instead utilizes smart contracts on blockchains. Types of DeFi platforms include crypto exchanges, loan platforms, investment and savings accounts, and insurance providers. (Wikipedia)
degen
short for "degenerate", the term refers both to the strategy of taking enormous risks without much information, as well as the people who employ that strategy
disgorgement
giving up something (such as profits illegally obtained) on demand or by legal compulsion (Wikipedia)
double-spending
a potential flaw in a digital cash scheme in which the same single digital token can be spent more than once (Wikipedia)
doxing
discovering the identity of pseudonymous cryptocurrency traders, often those running a project. The term "self-doxing" is the process of disclosing one's own identity (often in hopes of lending legitimacy to a project). Projects where the developers' identities are known are often described as "fully-doxed". In the crypto space, the term is not typically used with the negative meaning that it has elsewhere.
Dutch auction
an auction which begins with a high asking price which lowers over a set time period. With NFTs, collectors can buy at any price point as the price decreases, but often have to weigh whether to wait in hopes of buying at a lower price against the likelihood a collection with a limited number of NFTs will sell out.
DYOR (do your own research)
a common phrase in the crypto communities. Proponents would say that it is used to tell people they should verify everything themselves and not take advice from those who may not have their best interests in mind. Critics would point out that it's often used to dodge answering tricky questions, or imply someone doesn't know what they're talking about.
fiat
government-issued legal tender—what most of us know as "money"
flash loan
unsecured loans that don't require collateral from the borrower. Funds are borrowed, used, and returned all within one transaction, and they are typically used to provide leverage in arbitrage opportunities. They have also become a common entry point for hackers to exploit flaws in various DeFi protocols. (Radix)
floor price
the lowest price at which any NFT in a collection can be bought
FOMO / fear of missing out
the fear that if one doesn't buy in to a crypto project, they may later regret it
forced liquidation / "getting liquidated"
when a user takes out a leveraged position and can no longer meet the margin requirements for the position, they lose their initial capital in the position in what is known as forced liquidation, or "getting liquidated". Because of crypto's volatility, and the frequency of price manipulation attacks on the ecosystem, this can happen very suddenly. Events in which some users are liquidated and lose their positions, which then lowers the price further, which then causes others to be liquidated are referred to as "cascading liquidations".
fork
creating a new version of a blockchain or project based on an existing one. This is sometimes done when starting an entirely new project that is similar to one that already exists, to take advantage of the work that's already been done. It is also the term used when a blockchain needs to make a change to functionality, either to add new features or to fix security bugs—in this case, nodes must change over to the new version, or the chain will split into two separate chains with the same history, but different data going forward. (Wikipedia)
freezing
a process in which a given exchange prevents an asset (such as an NFT) from being traded, usually because it has been identified as stolen. This also sometimes refers to the process of preventing an entire wallet from transacting on a platform. There is effectively no way for third parties to completely prevent a person from trading a specific asset, but when major exchanges freeze trading for an asset or wallet it makes it substantially harder for that asset to be sold or traded.
FUD (fear/uncertainty/doubt)
in normal usage, "FUD" is a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear. (Wikipedia). Crypto projects and people within the ecosystem often use the term much more broadly to describe and dismiss any criticism or tough questions about their projects.
gas
gas fees are the transaction fees required to perform any transaction on the Ethereum blockchain: minting, buying an NFT, etc. (Wikipedia)
gm
an abbreviation for "good morning" that has become signature crypto slang (NFT ska)
governance token
tokens that represent a person's stake in the governance of a project, usually granting them voting powers
hardware wallet
a type of cold wallet (non-Internet-connected wallet) where cryptocurrency is stored on a physical device much like a flash drive (but often with additional features)
hashrate
the total combined computational power that is being used to mine and process transactions on a proof-of-work blockchain (CoinDesk)
hodl
a misspelling of "hold" that has also been said to be an acronym representing "hold on for dear life". It is used among cryptocurrency users to refer to holding on to their crypto assets, sometimes beyond reason (Investopedia)
hot wallet
a cryptocurrency wallet that is connected to the Internet, which allows the currency to be quickly accessed for trading and spending
ICO / initial coin offering
a crypto industry equivalent to an initial public offering (IPO). In an ICO, a quantity of cryptocurrency is sold to speculators or investors in exchange for legal tender or other (generally established and more stable) cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether. The tokens are promoted as future functional units of currency if or when the ICO's funding goal is met and the project successfully launches. (Wikipedia)
impairment charge
an accounting term used to describe a drastic reduction or loss in the recoverable value of an asset (Investopedia)
KYC / know your customer / know your client
procedures to verify the identity of a customer or client in a business relationship. Within the cryptocurrency space, this typically means verifying the real-life identity of a person behind a cryptocurrency wallet, or the identities of people running a project. (Wikipedia)
layer 2 / L2
a protocol built on top of an existing blockchain network, usually with the intention of increasing transaction speeds and/or scalability (Binance)
liquidity pool
funds locked in a smart contract, which facilitate trading and lending in a given exchange (Binance)
market capitalization
the total (ostensible) value of all coins that have been mined in a given cryptocurrency. These values should be taken with a hefty grain of salt, as they are considerably larger than the total value that could be realized if holders of a currency decided to try to cash out.
memecoin / shitcoin
cryptocurrency that originated from an Internet meme or has some other humorous characteristic. Examples include Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and other dog-themed coins. (Wikipedia)
metaverse
a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. Some metaverses envision using cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other blockchain-based technologies both to make exchanges within a given metaverse, and potentially transfer assets between metaverses. (The Conversation)
mining / validating
cryptocurrency mining is the process of validating blockchain transactions, and obtaining new cryptocurrency as a reward (Wikipedia)
mining pool
the pooling of resources by miners, who share their processing power over a network, to split the reward equally, according to the amount of work they contributed to the probability of finding a block (Wikipedia)
minting
the process of creating new tokens on a blockchain. This often refers to users creating NFTs, but also refers to the addition of other tokens, such as increasing the quantity of a cryptocurrency in circulation
NFT / non-fungible token
a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain that can be sold and traded. Types of NFT data units may be associated with digital files such as photos, videos, and audio. (Wikipedia)
ngmi / not going [to] make it
slang to suggest that a person or group will not be successful in crypto due to a bad decision or poor judgment (NTFska)
oracle
third-party service that connects smart contracts with the outside world, primarily to provide data to the chain about off-chain information (Wikipedia)
oracle manipulation attack
by manipulating the source of data about an external asset that's feeding in to a smart contract, an attacker can force unexpected behavior from a project. For example, if someone can manipulate an oracle providing the price of an asset to appear very low, they can "trick" the contract into providing them an oversized number of shares of that asset in a swap. (Consensys)
oracle problem
the surprisingly complex issue of ensuring accurate data is entered into a system built on a blockchain, and therefore that the data can be trusted not only to be unchanged after it is recorded, but to be accurate to begin with (Chainlink blog)
orange pill
a reference to the Matrix's red and blue pills, "taking the orange pill" is a metaphor for seeing the "truth" that Bitcoin (represented by an orange ₿) is the way of the future
peg
specified price for the rate of exchange between two assets. In the case of stablecoins, coins are often pegged to fiat currencies—for example, one Tether is pegged to one U.S. dollar. (CoinMarketCap)
phishing
a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a trusted company like a bank. Phishing is intended trick a victim into actions including revealing sensitive information, authorizing transactions, or installing malicious software (Wikipedia)
play-to-earn / P2E
a game mechanic in which players are rewarded with cryptocurrency tokens or other blockchain-based items (Protocol)
Ponzi scheme
a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from legitimate business activity. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors contribute new funds, and as long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they are purported to own. (Wikipedia)
privacycoin
cryptocurrencies that preserve anonymity by obscuring the flow of money across their networks, making it difficult to work out who sent what to whom (CoinDesk)
private key
a generated passphrase that grants access to assets including cryptocurrencies and NFTs. A compromised private key allows an attacker to steal all assets belonging to the person or group with that private key.
proof of stake
a class of consensus mechanisms for blockchains that work by selecting validators in proportion to their quantity of holdings in the associated cryptocurrency. Examples of proof-of-stake blockchains include Avalanche, Cardano, Polkadot, Solana, and Tezos. (Wikipedia)
proof of work
a class of consensus mechanisms for blockchains in which one party (the prover) proves to others (the verifiers) that a certain amount of a specific computational effort has been expended. Examples of proof-of-work blockchains include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero. (Wikipedia)
pumping (and dumping)
pumping (and then dumping) involves artificially inflating the price of a token or project with false or misleading information, allowing those behind it or who got in early to then "dump" the coin—that is, cash out before the price tanks
remittance
a transfer of money from someone working abroad, back to family in their home country to provide household income (Wikipedia)
remote procedure call gateway / RPC gateway
remote procedure call (RPC) interfaces allow web clients and other systems to communicate with blockchain nodes
right-clicker
a pejorative term for people who are skeptical of or otherwise don't "get" NFTs. It refers to the fairly common point by NFT skeptics, that someone seeking to obtain the artwork purchased by an NFT holder could simply right-click and save the file to their computer.
rug pull
when a development team suddenly abandons a project and takes all the money (Binance)
seed phrase
a secret series of words that function as a password to a cryptocurrency wallet, giving access to the currency or other assets associated with that wallet (Coinbase)
short
investing in a way to earn a profit if the value of an asset falls—essentially, betting that the price of an assets will go down (Wikipedia)
smart contract
a computer program or a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement (Wikipedia)
stablecoin
cryptocurrencies where the price is designed to be pegged to a cryptocurrency, fiat money, or to exchange-traded commodities (Wikipedia)
staking
a strategy to earn rewards on cryptocurrency or other assets by locking up the assets in a way that supports the blockchain network (The Motley Fool)
Sybil attack
an attack or exploitation of a computer system in which a person creates many pseudonymous identities to gain disproportionate control or influence in the system (Wikipedia)
tax loss harvesting
the practice of selling investments that have not performed well, using the loss to offset taxes on gains in other investments
token swap, token migration, or token fork
a process in which a project migrates from using one token to using a new one. There are several reasons a project might do this, including to restore a snapshot of a project from before when a hack occurred, to try to restore users' original holdings and to drop the value of the stolen tokens to 0.
tumbler or mixer
a cryptocurrency tumbler (or cryptocurrency mixing service) is a service offered to mix potentially identifiable or "tainted" cryptocurrency funds with others, so as to obscure the trail back to the fund's original source (Wikipedia)
wallet
a place where the keys to access one's cryptocurrency and other holdings (such as NFTs) are stored. These are sometimes physical devices similar to flash drives, or they can also be software-based.
wash trading
the process of selling an NFT between two wallets secretly owned by the same person (or by two people working together). This is often done to artificially inflate the price of an NFT by making it appear to be in demand, but is also sometimes done to obtain rewards for transactions offered by some platforms. (Fortune)
web3 / web 3.0
an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on the blockchain, which incorporates concepts including decentralization and token-based economics (Wikipedia)
whale
a person who has invested a large amount into cryptocurrencies or other blockchain-based assets. The term is also used to refer to a person who holds a large proportion of assets within a given project.
wrapped token
a wrapped token (often denoted with a lowercase "w" before the token abbreviation, like wETH for wrapped Ethereum) is a token that is pegged to the value of the original currency, and able to be used on other blockchains. (Binance)
yield farming
lending or staking cryptocurrency in exchange for interest and other rewards