A jargon-busting glossary of common terms surrounding cryptocurrency, altcoins, and the blockchain

Cryptocurrency, and its community, can often feel exclusive due to the common usage of jargon, abbreviations, and technical terms. We created the below glossary to help you with these terms.

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Address: The string of alphanumeric characters that you share with others in order to receive digital currencies.

Altcoin: Cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects other than Bitcoin. An abbreviation of ‘alternative coin’.


Bearish: Trading term meaning a downward trend; as opposed to a bullish upward trend.

Blockchain: A decentralised system for maintaining a set of data and ensuring its integrity. Cryptocurrencies are generally based on this technology.

Block ExplorerAn online tool that allows you to monitor transactions (tx) and wallets, useful for checking transaction confirmations.

Bullish: Trading term meaning an upward trend; as opposed to a bearish downward trend.

Exchange: (noun) This is a website/platform where you can trade coins, for example Bitfinex, Binance, Bittrex.

Fiat: A government-issued currency, such as GBP, USD, Euros.

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

FUDFear, Uncertainty & Doubt. You will frequently find this phrase used in the crypto community, to describe someone or something that is spreading doubt about a project or coin.

Hard Fork: An update to a cryptocurrency’s code which introduces a new rule to the network that represents a clean break from the older code. This makes previously invalid blocks/transactions valid, and therefore requires that all users upgrade.

HODL: A miss-spelling of HOLD, which has been embraced by the community to mean a long-term holder of a cryptocurrency, as opposed to a short-term trader.

ICO: Initial Coin Offering. A crowdsale that allows early investors to purchase coin tokens before general sale, often at a discount.

Market CapThis is calculated by multiplying the current price per coin by the amount of coins in circulation.

Miner: A person that uses networked devices to confirm/validate blockchain transactions. Miners are rewarded for this work.

Public Key: This is the key that you can share, which allows others to send currency to your wallet.

Private Key: This is the key that you should never share with anyone. It allows access to your wallet and everything within.

Proof of Stake (PoS): This type of algorithm rewards those who solve difficult crypto equation puzzles, which contributed to distributed consensus (the collective agreement of various computers in a network; in the absence of central authority). Unlike proof of work, proof of stake gives people authority to contribute to distributed consensus based on their individual wealth (i.e. stake; how many coins they own).

Proof of Work (PoW): This type of algorithm rewards the first miner to solve a computational problem that contributes to distributed consensus. Miners thus compete to solve the difficult cryptographic puzzles and gain the rewards; which can result in high energy consumption vs. PoS.

Satoshi: The smallest denomination of a bitcoin. 1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 ฿.

Soft Fork: A change in a coin’s code that is backwards compatible.

WalletA place where you can store your digital currencies. Hardware wallets, desktop wallets, web wallets, paper wallets, etc.

Wei: The smallest denomination of ether. 1 Ether = 1000000000000000000 Wei (1018)

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