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Do You Speak Crypto?

Read 6 min
Coins spiraling in a circle
— Crypto is rife with weird and wonderful lingo that can make it feel inhospitable if you’re a newcomer

— Knowledge of a few key crypto terms will help you navigate the space with confidence, and engage in conversation with others doing the same

— Crypto terms emerge from the within community itself – so in this sense, the industry is actually very inclusive! Don’t be intimidated – learn the basics and get involved in this ever evolving environment!

Do you speak the crypto language? If you feel like it’s going back to school all over again with cryptocurrency, don’t be intimidated by all that complicated and elusive terminology. When you think crypto, you might be tempted to believe even the terminology is encrypted. Truth be told, it’s just some plain jargon that some dude thought it would sound cool and it stuck. Let’s get you set-up for the crypto-ride, learning what all those seemingly complicated terms like “holders, whales, bulls & bears, HODL and altcoins, REKT, pump and dump” mean.

Why call it cryptocurrency anyway?

It’s obvious we should start with the beginning. The term cryptocurrency originates from the cryptographic component that these currencies feature. Basically, the use of cryptography is employed in the code of cryptocurrencies, allowing for the encoding and decoding of information, which makes it possible for the transactions to remain secure and anonymous. Think of it as passing that super-secret, hand written note to your best buddy in grade school, without its contents being revealed to your other classmates.

And that’s basically why they call it cryptocurrency – it’s a cryptographically encoded currency. Now, let’s deep dive into the other fun-stuff.

The whales

As the name intuitively suggests, we are dealing with something BIG. Whales are key players in the crypto arena. They hold on to huge amounts of assets from a given cryptocurrency and have the power to easily influence the market and price of that cryptocurrency.

“Are you selling some of those lumens? You’re hodling quite a lot.” “Neah! I’m waiting for the whales to buy-in and raise the price before selling anything.

They can either hold on to their assets for a given time to keep the price of the currency steady or increase the price but more than often, they choose to “dump”. This means they will sell out all their assets when the price of that cryptocurrency has risen sufficiently to make them a profit. Often, this results in that asset losing some of its value and decreasing in price.

So, crypto-captains, have your binoculars ready and watch out for those whales!

Bears and bulls

We are going to discuss these two beasts together because they kinda go hand-in-hand or more like claws-in-horns.

The relationship between bears and bulls is one of those typical “clashes of titans”. Bears are cryptocurrency traders that believe a certain crypto-asset will depreciate and make bets on it losing its value. The bull on the other hand, is the trader that believes a certain crypto-asset will rise in value and therefore bets on its increase. 

Sometimes, people also refer to these people as being either “bearish” or “bullish”. In fact, anyone can be a bear or a bull. It depends on which side of the fence you’re on. A certain asset can also be referred to as being “bullish” or “bearish”, when it tends to rise or decrease in price.

How’s the market going?”, “Bitcoin is looking bullish today! It might break the 40k mark.”


his one might be a little bit obvious or a complete mind boggler. The origin of the term “HODL” is quite a funny one and for obvious reasons.

At 10:03 AM UTC, on December 18th 2013, In what was probably a drunken rant, a user on the “” forum wrote a post that became legend. The would be-drunk and probably dyslexic user, GameKyuubi, wrote “I AM HODLING” and continued with a correction – “I type d that tyitle twice because I knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. w/e,”. Hey, at least he was brave enough to admit it!

Within the hour HODL had already been converted into memes, spotlighting “The 300” and “Braveheart” and continuing to jumpstart giggles with Game of Thrones’ Hodor –

So, hodlers are basically the people that like to “hold on crypto”. They would buy different cryptocurrencies and hold on to them for a longer period of time in order to make a hefty profit out of their investment.It would sound something like – “Hey, Jeff are you selling your bitcoin?”, “Neah, man! I’m HODLING”.


This one is not that difficult either. Alternatively called “alts”, altcoins are basically what they say they are. “Alternative coins” – alternative coins to Bitcoin, that is.

So, anything besides bitcoin, can be considered an altcoin, be it Ethereum, Tezos, Stellar, Compound and what-not. Some people also like to consider Ethereum as a main, alongside bitcoin but that depends on who you ask.

“Are you getting some more bitcoins on your next paycheck?”, “Not really! I’m buying alts this time around. Alt-season is around the corner!”

How is your alt-game going, by the way?

Pump and dump

This one is not exclusive to the crypto world, it’s one of the oldest tricks in the trader’s book. The black-book of trader-schemes that is.

Pump and dump refers to an illegal profit scheme that groups of interest would undertake to make loads of money off the back of crypto-buyers. They would typically buy huge amounts of a given cryptocurrency to raise its price, “pumping it”, and then sell all their assets to make huge profits while devaluing the coin, “dumping it”.

More often than not, this doesn’t imply just having people with money colluding to manipulate the price of the asset. The scammers would often go to great lengths to promote the coin, via social media and grassroots forums on Telegram/Reddit etc., while also investing in influencers to make it look 100% legit. This would also get people into buying it, raising its value exponentially only to quickly end up in the DUMPSTER.

Fear not, because this scheme cannot be done on regulated exchanges, such as Coinbase, Binance or on the Ledger Live App, because of the vetting process that currencies go through before being listed here. This would normally happen on unregulated exchanges and involve new, shady altcoins aka shitcoins. You can’t really pump and dump bitcoin, for example.

“Did you see how bullish that new altcoin is?” , “Yeah but I totally think it’s a pump and dump. Look at all the bullshit P.R. it has behind it!”


Getting REKT is not fun at all! REKT is basically a contraction from “wrecked” and it’s a pretty straightforward one.

When someone would invest a good amount into a crypto-asset and that asset would fail to give back returns, with its price decreasing, the poor person in question would be REKT. It’s not funny nor is it something you’d like to happen to you.

Getting REKT can happen to anyone and you should be careful not to place all your crypto-eggs in the same basket or you would risk suffering a REKT scenario.

“Did Dave make some profit from that new alt he was talking about?”, “Nah! He totally got REKT. It turned out to be a pump and dump!”


Sats” is Satoshis for short. It’s the smallest unit of bitcoin and it’s equal to 0.00000001 BTC (one hundred millionth of a bitcoin). To put it plainly, there are 100,000,000 satoshis in a Bitcoin.

The name is derived from the creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto which is in itself a pseudonym. Fun fact – no one knows the true name of bitcoin’s creator!

Sats are typically used when dealing with trades that require a heck lot of precision because of the decimals that are involved. “How much is 0.1 eth trading for today?”, “I think it’s around  3 229 475 sats”


This one didn’t originate from the crypto world but it found its way here as well. A shill is typically a person who wants to promote a certain product or in our case, a coin.

The difference from, let’s say influencers, is that this person acts with malicious intent – they usually make false claims and falsely advertise the coin to get buyers onboard. They also act the other way around, making false and negative allegations about other currencies that are competing with the one they’re trying to promote.

In a nutshell, they are like shady dealers at the corner of the street who want to sell you the “good stuff”.

“Did you see the guy earlier on the Telegram group with that awesome offer?”, “Yeah but I totally think he’s shilling his coins. Look at how desperately he’s spamming the other groups!”

Bag holder

The bag holder is like the unwavering hero in the face of uncertain fate. The bag holder is an investor that significantly buys into an asset and holds it through thick and thin. Even after that asset has severely decreased in value, he retains it in hopes of a future market recovery.

While this can prove to be a good strategy sometimes, it may not always be the case.

“What happened to Matt? Isn’t he selling out that new alt that just went down?”, “I don’t know man… He’s quite a bag holder on this one, he should SODL (Sell for dear life).”

To the Moon

“To the Moon” is one of those sentences you’d love to hear when talking about crypto. When a certain cryptocurrency is going “to the Moon” it means its price is literally skyrocketing.

Also, when a crypto is “mooning” it means it has reached its peak price and maybe is begging to “come back from the Moon”. You can also find yourself asking the apparently half-witted question “when moon?” to find out when it would be a good time to buy or sell your assets. Don’t worry, we all do it!

“When moon?”, “IDK, I hope soon.”

Not your keys, not your crypto

This one is quite descriptive. It basically says that if you don’t own your private keys, you don’t own the crypto associated with it.

Typically, when you are trading online and you are using the exchange’s wallet, your private keys are in the hands of the exchange and not yours. This basically means that they have ownership over your crypto. Moreover, exchange wallets are the prime target of pesky hackers who want to sip on your bitcoin supply. You can read more about the risks here.

With a personal, digital wallet, you get full ownership of your crypto but still run the risk of getting hacked. The best way to protect your assets and simultaneously have full ownership is with a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano X or Ledger Nano S.

Ledger Nano products are the only hardware wallets independently certified on the market and they come with Ledger Live, a software that enables you to easily manage your assets from your desktop or mobile while your private keys are secured offline.

“Do you still want to join me on that new exchange?”, “Not really, no… I want to have full control over my crypto. You know what they say – not your keys, not your crypto!.”

If you’ve gotten this far you probably have a better picture of the crypto-jargon. It’s not that difficult! In fact, it’s quite intuitive with a little mind-boggle here and there but nothing to be scared of. If you’ve been discouraged by those “big-bad words”, you now have all the weapons you need to jump onto the crypto-train.

Knowledge is power – so keep on learning! If you enjoy getting to grips with crypto and blockchain, check out our School of Block video What’s Going On With Crypto Regulations?

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