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Glossary | The essential crypto vocabulary



A DeFi platform that lets users borrow and lend cryptocurrencies via an open source, non-custodial liquidity protocol.


The distribution of tokens or coins to a large number of wallet addresses, often for free or as a reward for completing certain tasks or for holding a particular cryptocurrency. Airdrops are usually part of a marketing strategy.

Algorand (ALGO)

A proof-of-stake blockchain and smart contract platform founded by MIT professor and Turing award-winner Silvio Micali. ALGO is the native token of the Algorand blockchain.

Algorithmic stablecoin

A type of cryptocurrency that is designed to maintain a stable value against a specific reference asset, such as the US dollar or another stable asset. Algorithmic stablecoins typically use a combination of smart contracts, decentralized governance mechanisms, and market incentives to maintain a stable price. Examples include DAI, Frax and Ampleforth.


An altcoin is a term used to describe any cryptocurrency that is not bitcoin, i.e. ‘alternative to bitcoin’. Altcoins can be based on the same technology as Bitcoin, such as blockchain, but they often have different features, algorithms, or goals. Popular altcoins include Ethereum, Cardano, Doge, Ripple, and BNB.

Avalanche (AVAX)

A proof-of-stake blockchain and smart contract platform that boasts the fastest speeds, as measured by time-to-finality. AVAX is the native currency of the Avalanche blockchain.


Beacon chain

Ethereum’s proof-of-stake (PoS) layer where consensus is reached. The Beacon Chain served as a bridge for Ethereum’s upgrade to proof-of-stake.

Bear market

A period of time where the overall trend is negative, with prices of most cryptocurrencies declining over an extended period of time. In a bear market, there is generally more selling pressure than buying pressure, and investors tend to be pessimistic about the future prospects of the market.


The largest cryptocurrency exchange by total trading volume.

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin is the first and most valuable cryptocurrency. The Bitcoin blockchain was founded by pseudonymous developer[s] Satoshi Nakamoto.

Black swan event

An unforeseen market event that typically has catastrophic consequences, such as the collapse of FTX.


A decentralized digital ledger that records transactions on a distributed network of computers.

Bollinger band

A technical analysis tool used by traders to measure market volatility and to identify potential buy and sell signals, developed by John Bollinger in the 1980s.

Bull market

A period of time where the overall trend is positive, with prices of most cryptocurrencies increasing over an extended period of time. In a bull market, there is generally more buying pressure than selling pressure, and investors tend to be optimistic about the future prospects of the market.



A type of price chart used in technical analysis to represent the movement of an asset’s price over a specific period of time. Candlestick charts can be used to identify patterns in price movements, such as bullish or bearish trends, and to identify potential support and resistance levels.


A proof-of-stake blockchain with smart contract functionality founded by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson. ADA is the native currency of Cardano.


An organisational structure whereby power and control is centralised to one authority. In crypto, this typically means one node or a small number of nodes are in control of the entire network.


A method – usually an algorithm – that encrypts and decrypts information.


An organisational structure whereby power and control is centralised to one authority. In crypto, this typically means one node or a small number of nodes are in control of the entire network.

Circulating supply

An approximation of the number of publicly available tokens in circulation.

Cold wallet/cold storage

A cold wallet is one that isn’t connected to the internet, such as Ledger or Trezor. Cold storage refers to storing digital assets offline in a cold wallet (USB, hard drive), or even a paper wallet.

Consensus mechanism

A process used to achieve agreement among participants within a blockchain network on the validity of transactions. Since there is no central authority or trusted third party to validate transactions or maintain the ledger, a consensus mechanism is needed to ensure that all participants agree on the current state of the system.

Proof-of-work (such as Bitcoin) and proof-of-stake (such as Ethereum) are the main two consensus mechanisms.


Dapps (decentralised application)

A Dapp, short for decentralized application, is an application that operates on a decentralized network such as a blockchain. Popular Dapps include OpenSea, Uniswap, MetaMask and many more.

Dead coin

A coin or token that is no longer in use.

Decentralisation/distributed network

A structure whereby power and control is distributed across a network, avoiding a single point of failure. In crypto, this means a network is maintained across thousands of nodes or computers to achieve the same goal.

DeFi (decentralised finance)

Decentralised finance (DeFi) is a growing financial technology that enables individuals, institutions and businesses to access capital and financial services through public blockchains rather than centralised banks.

DeFi aggregator

A DeFi aggregator is a platform that enables users to access multiple decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols and services through a single interface. Zapper, 1inch and Instadapp are popular aggregators.

Delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS)

Delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) is a variation of the classic proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism that allows users of the network vote and elect delegates to validate the next block.


The process of removing a token or coin from an exchange.


DogeCoin is a cryptocurrency that was the first ‘meme coin’, based on the Shiba Inu meme. It was created in 2013 as a sort of joke to mock the extreme speculation in the market at the time.


Someone with a moderate amount of cryptocurrency/digital assets in holding.


A sudden sell-off of any particular crypto asset.


Do you own research – encouraging investors to undertake due diligence before making any purchase.



The technical standard used for Ethereum-based tokens.


The technical standard for Ethereum non-fungible tokens (NFTs).


A proof-of-stake blockchain with smart contract functionality founded by Vitalik Buterin (et al.). ETH, the native currency of Ethereum, is the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)

A software that executes smart contracts on the Ethereum network. It sits on top of Ethereum’s hardware and node network layer.


A marketplace or business that enables individuals to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with fiat or cryptocurrency.


Fiat currency

Government-issued money that isn’t backed by a physical standard such as gold or silver. GBP, USD and the Euro are examples of fiat currency.

First-mover advantage (FMA)

The benefit of being the first project/business within a market to launch in its early days, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. First-mover advantages include customer loyalty and early market penetration.


Purchasing a digital asset and selling it within a short period of time to turn over a profit.


Fear of missing out. A popular market strategy that encourages individuals to buy something out of fear of missing a potential opportunity.


Someone who makes a small cryptocurrency investment. (‘Dolphin’ is used for a moderate investor; ‘whale’ for someone with substantial holdings).


Fear, uncertainty, doubt. It’s a commonly used acronym to describe negative, false or misleading information that influences the market.



The ether that must be paid as a fee when executing a transaction on Ethereum.

Genesis block

The first block to be processed and validated on a blockchain.


A popular code hosting platform that enables collaboration between coders, as well as version control.


The structure in which people who make decisions within a project are organised. For example, the Algorand blockchain is governed by those who participate in consensus.

Governance token

A token that bestows voting rights upon its holder to participate in the project decision-making process.



A time in which the rewards for block mining are reduced. Bitcoin’s halving takes place every four years and the next will be in 2024.

Hard fork

When the network splits into two separate chains, usually to improve the network. Notable hard forks include Ethereum’s split into Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Bitcoin’s split into Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).


Holding onto a crypto asset regardless of market prices. It was initially an intentional misspelling of ‘hold’, but many now use HODL as an acronym for ‘hold on for dear life’

Hot wallet

A crypto asset wallet that is connected to the internet, such as MetaMask.


ICO (initial coin offering)

When a company or project crowdfunds cryptocurrency to fund early-stage business ventures.


Unchanged over a long period of time, or unable to be changed. Blockchain data is immutable in the sense that transactions cannot be edited or deleted.


An economic term that refers to the overall increase in cost of goods and services, resulting in reduced purchasing power of a given fiat currency.


KYC (Know your customer)

When an exchange or other platform verifies the identity of its users in order to prevent money laundering.



The digital record of all transactions on the blockchain. This cannot be edited, it can only be added to.

Layer-1 blockchain

A base blockchain that corresponds to the main chain of the network. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and Tezos are all examples of layer-1 blockchains.

Layer-2 blockchain network

A layer-2 chain is a scaling solution that’s built upon layer-1. Layer-2 networks typically improve the efficiency and scalability of the blockchain it’s built on. Polygon is a notable example of a layer-2 chain that’s built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.


The use of borrowed capital to increase the potential returns of an investment, multiplying gains and losses.


A term that describes how easy an an asset can be sold for cash without negatively impacting the value of the asset.

Liquid staking

A variation of proof-of-stake that enables users to stake their tokens and simultaneously use them in the DeFi ecosystem. Tezos uses liquid proof-of-stake.



A fully-operational blockchain that’s running its own independent network, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.

Market cap

The total value of a cryptocurrency. The total market cap is calculated by multiplying the current price of a project’s token by the total circulating supply.


A popular non-custodial hot wallet that supports Ethereum-based tokens and NFTs.


A blockchain-based virtual world or universe that is powered by decentralized technology. Popular metaverse projects include Decentraland, The Sandbox and Somnium Space. that Metaverse users can own and trade virtual land, create and monetize digital assets, and participate in virtual events and experiences.


Using intensive computer power to validate transactions and add them to the blockchain. Mining is a feature of a proof-of-work consensus mechanism such as Bitcoin, and miners get rewarded with freshly mined coins. Bitcoin mining involves solving complex mathematical puzzles to validate transactions.


The process of generating new coins or tokens and putting them into circulation. Minting a feature of a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.

Moon/To the moon

An expression of enthusiasm for an upward market trend for a specific cryptocurrency/NFT project.



A basic unit of blockchain infrastructure – usually a computer.

NFT (non-fungible token).

A unique, one-of-a-kind crypto asset that can be used to prove ownership of a range of physical and non-physical goods, from artwork to real estate.



The largest NFT marketplace in terms of sales.

Open Source

Source code that’s accessible for the public to view and possibly amend/suggest/modify improvements.


Digital assets that are similar to NFTs that can be minted on the Bitcoin blockchain.


Paper wallet

A physical document/page that documents the key or seed phrase to a crypto wallet.

Peer-peer (P2P)

Direct transactions from one person to another in a decentralised network.


A cyberattack that involves a bad actor masquerading as another entity/website/service provider in order to obtain sensitive information such as bank information.

Polygon (MATIC)

A layer-2 blockchain platform built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, often referred to as ‘Ethereum’s internet of blockchains’. MATIC is the native token of the Polygon network.

Private key

A alphanumeric code that functions similar to password, giving users access to their funds.


A consensus mechanism that uses computer power to validate transactions and add blocks to the chain.


A consensus mechanism that involves users staking their crypto as collateral to validate transactions and add blocks to the chain.


A set of rules and standards that dictate how different components of a blockchain network should interact with each other. These rules can cover transaction verification, block creation and validation, network consensus, and governance.

Public key

An alphanumeric code that functions as an address for crypto wallet to receive transactions.

Pump and dump

A fraudulent scheme where bad actors artificially inflate the price of a digital asset through misleading statements, only to exit in profit before the price crashes.



Slang for ‘wrecked’, REKT refers to a bad loss on a trade.


A technical analysis terms that refers to a price level at which the demand for a particular cryptocurrency is not able to push the price higher, i.e. the level where selling pressure is strong enough to prevent further price increases.

Rug pull

A scam whereby fraudsters attract funding for a project then disappear with the funds.


Satoshi Nakamoto

The pseudonymous developer/group of developers who created Bitcoin.

Seed phrase

A group of words randomly generated by a crypto wallet that function as an account recovery key – a ‘master key’ of sorts.


The splitting of a blockchain into multiple, identical chains (‘shards’) that execute transactions and smart contracts in parallel, making the network more efficient. Sharding is a core component of Ethereum’s scalability roadmap.


Enthusiastic promotion of a project/coin, typically via Twitter.

Shit coin

A coin with no real value or utility.


A blockchain network that connects to and runs parallel to a ‘parent’ blockchain such as Ethereum. Sidechains are similar to layer-2 solutions, but they rely on their own security rather than on the security of the main chain.

Smart contract

Self-executing code that automatically enforces the terms of a contract between two or more parties. Smart contracts are built on a blockchain, and they are designed to be tamper-proof, meaning that once a contract is written and executed on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted.


A type of cryptocurrency that is pegged to a certain asset to maintain a relatively stable value. Some stablecoins are tied to fiat currencies (such as USDT), while others are tied to commodities such as gold.


When users lock up their crypto as collateral to participate in consensus in order to earn a reward.



A financial term that refers to strong negative performance of an asset.

The Merge

A nickname referring to Ethereum upgrading from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake by merging the Beacon Chain with the Ethereum Mainnet.

Ticker symbol

An alphabetic symbolic that refers to a coin on a marketplace, such as BTC or ETH


A digital asset issued on a blockchain that holds value.


The economics of a given token or coin, including factors that influence the supply, demand, and distribution of the token, as well as its overall value and utility.


When transactions rely on cryptography and algorithms rather than trust between people, institutions or other third parties.



Individuals who do not have access to the financial system, such as bank accounts.


A decentralised exchange (DEX) that enables investors to buy and sell crypto without an intermediary via smart contracts.

Utility token

A token that has value or a function within a specified ecosystem, such as access to real-life memberships or community voting rights.



A node/participant on a blockchain network that is responsible for validating and verifying transactions on the network for a reward.

Vitalik Buterin

Programmer and co-founder of Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.


The rapid and unpredictable changes in the price of cryptocurrencies.



An acronym for ‘we’re all gonna make it’ widely used on crypto Twitter to encourage confidence and hope.


An account that’s used to store, send and receive funds. Hot wallets are dapps that are connected to the internet, while cold wallets are not. A paper wallet is one that documents the seed phrase to access a wallet.

Web 1.0

The earliest version of the internet; static with linear information.

Web 2.0

The current version of the internet; read-write and funded primarily by the sale of data.

Web 3.0

An impending new iteration of the internet; decentralised and built on blockchain technology.


A wallet address that holds a crypto balance large enough to influence the market.


A selective group of trusted individuals eligible for certain benefits such as first access to a new token.

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