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The Essential Web3 Glossary

Your Go-to Guide To Understanding Basic Crypto Lingo

Diving into the world of crypto can feel like being hit with a firehose — a torrent of new terms, abbreviations, and insider lingo that can easily overwhelm even the savviest tech veterans.

Whether you’re a crypto newbie feeling the intimidation of learning this digital dialect, an OG seeking to brush up on the latest jargon, or an NFT artist aiming to stay ahead of the curve, this glossary is your go-to guide. Created with care, it’s designed to demystify the bleeding-edge field of crypto, blockchain, NFTs, and more, offering clear definitions for everything from ‘Ape in’ to ‘ZK-rollup.’

And because crypto never stops evolving, neither does this glossary! If you stumble across a term that’s not here or think something should be added, don’t hesitate to DM the author. Your contribution will help keep this resource fresh, relevant, and ready to help others navigate the dynamic world of crypto. Happy learning!

1. Crypto Basics

  • Bitcoin: The first decentralized digital currency, created by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.

  • Blockchain: A decentralized digital ledger.

  • Cryptocurrency: Digital or virtual currency using cryptography for security.

  • Distributed Ledger: A type of database that is shared, replicated, and synchronized among multiple participants, often across multiple sites or geographical locations, without a central administrator or a centralized storage location.

  • Exchange: A platform where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

  • Ethereum: A decentralized, open-source blockchain system that features smart contract functionality. It was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, with development starting in early 2014 and the network going live on July 30, 2015.

  • Fiat: Government-issued currency.

  • Mainnet: The main network where the real transaction takes place.

  • Mining: The process of validating and confirming transactions.

  • Scalability: The ability of a network to handle a growing amount of work.

  • Stable Token: Cryptocurrency tied to the value of a stable asset.

  • Token: A unit of value issued by a project.

  • Wallet: A digital interface through which you can view and transact with your cryptocurrency recorded on the blockchain.

2. Crypto Abbreviations

  • 2FA: Two-factor authentication, an extra layer of sign-in security.

  • AMA: Ask Me Anything, a Q&A format often used in crypto communities.

  • AML: Anti-Money Laundering, regulations to prevent illegal money transactions.

  • AMM: Automated Market Maker, algorithmic agents that provide liquidity in DeFi.

  • APY: Annual Percentage Yield, the real rate of return on staking or saving assets.

  • API: Application Programming Interface, allows software to communicate.

  • ATH: All-Time High, the highest historical price of a specific asset.

  • ATL: All-Time Low, the lowest historical price of a specific asset.

  • BIP: Bitcoin Improvement Proposal, suggestions for Bitcoin protocol changes.

  • BTC: Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency.

  • BTD: Buy The Dip, purchasing assets when prices are low.

  • BTFD: Buy The Freaking Dip, a more aggressive form of Buy The Dip.

  • CEX: Centralized Exchange, an exchange controlled by a single entity.

  • CFTC: Commodity Futures Trading Commission, U.S. regulatory agency.

  • CT: Crypto Twitter, a virtual space on the Twitter (now X) social media platform where crypto traders and degens gather.

  • CZ: Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance.

  • DAO: Decentralized Autonomous Organization, self-governing entities on blockchain.

  • DApp: Decentralized Application, apps built on a blockchain.

  • DEX: Decentralized Exchange, a platform not controlled by a single entity.

  • De-Fi: Decentralized Finance, financial products on the blockchain.

  • Dev: Developer, people who create and maintain software.

  • DPOW: Delegated Proof-of-Work, a blockchain consensus mechanism.

  • DPOS: Delegated Proof-of-Stake, another blockchain consensus mechanism.

  • DYOR: Do Your Own Research, advice to not rely solely on others.

  • EOA: Externally Owned Account, individual accounts on Ethereum.

  • ERC: Ethereum Request for Comments, a standard for Ethereum tokens.

  • ERC-20, ERC-721: Ethereum standards for fungible and non-fungible tokens.

  • EVM: Ethereum Virtual Machine, the computational engine of Ethereum.

  • FATF: Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body against money laundering.

  • FinCen: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, U.S. agency combating financial crimes.

  • FOMO: Fear of Missing Out, a form of anxiety about missing opportunities.

  • FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, a strategy to influence perception.

  • GM: Good Morning, often used in crypto social media, usually expressed in lowercase.

  • GWEI: A unit of gas price on the Ethereum network.

  • GUI: Graphical User Interface, a visual way to interact with software.

  • HODL: Hold On for Dear Life, advice to not sell assets during market volatility.

  • ICO, IDO: Initial Coin Offering, Initial DEX Offering, methods for launching new tokens.

  • IPFS: InterPlanetary File System, a decentralized file storage system.

  • KYC: Know Your Customer, regulations requiring identity verification.

  • LFG: Let’s (Freaking) Go, an expression of enthusiasm.

  • LTC: Stands for Litecoin, a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that enables instant, low-cost payments. It’s often considered the silver to Bitcoin’s gold.

  • MEV: Maximal Extractable Value, a measure of profit miners can extract.

  • NFA: Not Financial Advice, a disclaimer used when discussing investment.

  • NGMI: Not Gonna Make It, slang for someone who will not succeed.

  • NFT: Non-Fungible Token, unique digital assets on a blockchain.

  • NFTNYC: NFT conference in New York City.

  • PAC: Personal Account Coin, a personalized cryptocurrency.

  • P2E: Play to Earn, games where you can earn real-world assets.

  • P2P: Peer-to-peer, direct transactions between users.

  • PFP: Profile Picture, often an NFT.

  • POS: Proof-of-Stake, a blockchain consensus mechanism.

  • POW: Proof-of-Work, another blockchain consensus mechanism.

  • ROI: Return on Investment, a measure of the profitability of an investment.

  • SBF: Sam Bankman Fried, disgraced ex-CEO of FTX and Alameda Research.

  • SEC: Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. regulatory agency.

  • TPS: Transactions Per Second, a measure of network speed.

  • TVL: Total Value Locked, assets staked in a DeFi protocol.

  • TX: Transaction, any transfer of value on a blockchain.

  • USDC: USD Coin, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar.

  • USDT: Tether, another stablecoin.

  • UTXO: Unspent Transaction Output, the output of completed transactions.

  • VPN: Virtual Private Network, provides online privacy and anonymity.

  • WAGMI: We Are Gonna Make It, the opposite of NGMI.

3. Investment Terms

  • Alpha: Crypto intel, info.

  • Altcoin, Shitcoin, Memecoin: Various types of cryptocurrencies, often with humorous or negative connotations.

  • Axie: Refers to Axie Infinity, a blockchain-based game where players collect, breed, and battle fantasy creatures called Axies.

  • Bag Holder: A person left holding a cryptocurrency that has decreased in value.

  • Block Explorer: A tool that provides detailed information about blocks, transactions, and addresses on a blockchain network.

  • Brian Armstrong: CEO of Coinbase.

  • Bridge: A connection between two different blockchain networks that allows for the transfer of tokens or data.

  • Circulating Supply: The number of cryptocurrency coins or tokens that are publicly available and circulating in the market.

  • DAO: DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. These are a form of organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members, and not influenced by a central authority. DAOs are designed to be transparent and global, with the particular rules and operations of a DAO being controlled by its written code.

  • Doge Coin: A cryptocurrency featuring a likeness of the Shiba Inu dog from the “Doge” meme as its logo.

  • Governance Token: A token that gives holders the power to influence decisions concerning the project such as proposed changes to the protocol.

  • Howey Test: A test created by the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether a transaction qualifies as an investment contract and therefore would be considered a security.

  • ICO, IDO: Initial Coin Offering and Initial DEX Offering, ways in which new cryptocurrencies raise initial capital.

  • Max Supply: The maximum number of coins or tokens that will ever exist for a particular cryptocurrency.

  • Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins: A phrase emphasizing the importance of controlling your own private keys in the crypto space. If you don’t control the keys, you don’t actually own the cryptocurrency.

  • Peer-to-peer: Direct transactions between users.

  • Pegged Token: A cryptocurrency whose value is anchored or ‘pegged’ to the value of another asset, like gold or a fiat currency.

  • Private Key: A cryptographic key that is used by an individual to sign digital transactions, providing mathematical proof that they have come from the owner of the wallet.

  • Public Key: A cryptographic key that can be obtained and used by anyone to encrypt messages intended for a particular recipient, who can decrypt them using a corresponding private key.

  • Rekt: Slang for “wrecked,” referring to a bad loss.

  • Satoshi: The smallest unit of bitcoin, named after its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. One Satoshi (sat) is equal to 0.00000001 bitcoin.

  • Security Token: A token that derives its value from an external asset and complies with federal security regulations.

  • Shiba: A decentralized meme token, aka, “the Doge killer.”

  • Stable Coin/Stable Token: A cryptocurrency tied to the value of a stable asset like fiat money.

  • Staking: Pledging cryptocurrency to validate transactions on the blockchain.

  • Total Supply: The total number of coins or tokens that are in existence, including those that are locked, reserved, or not yet released.

  • Trading: Buying and selling assets.

  • USDC, USDT: Stablecoins tied to the U.S. dollar. (USDC, founded by Circle, managed by a consortium called Centre; USDT, launched by Tether Ltd.)

  • Vitalik Buterin: A Russian-Canadian programmer and writer, mainly known as one of the co-founders of Ethereum.

  • Wrapped Token: A token that represents a cryptocurrency from another blockchain, allowing the wrapped version to be traded on a different network.

4. Trading Practices

  • Ape In: To buy into a particular asset, often hastily or without due diligence.

  • Ape Out: To quickly sell off a particular asset.

  • Arbitrage: Buying and selling the same asset on different markets to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.

  • Burn: The act of permanently removing tokens from circulation.

  • Buy the Dip (BTD): Purchasing an asset after it has dropped in price.

  • Dump: To sell off an asset rapidly, often in large volumes.

  • Flash Loan: A loan in the DeFi space that is taken and repaid within a single transaction.

  • Flipping: The practice of purchasing an asset and quickly reselling it for profit

  • Front Run: Making a trade before a large order is known to the rest of the market

  • Impermanent Loss: Temporary loss of funds occurring when providing liquidity.

  • Lazy Minting: Creating an NFT that doesn’t get minted until someone decides to buy it.

  • Leverage: Using borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment.

  • Liquid Staking: A DeFi approach to staking that allows staked assets to be more freely utilized.

  • Liquidity Pool: A collection of funds locked in a smart contract, used to facilitate trading by providing liquidity.

  • Long Position: The buying of a security with the expectation that it will rise in value.

  • Margin Trading: Trading assets using funds provided by a third party.

  • Mint: Create or issue a new unit of a particular asset.

  • Mix: The act of obscuring the origins of cryptocurrency funds.

  • Pump and Dump: A fraudulent practice where the price of a traded asset is artificially inflated to sell at a profit.

  • Pull Liquidity: The act of removing liquidity from a liquidity pool, often done maliciously.

  • Rug Pull: A malicious maneuver in the crypto industry where crypto developers abandon a project and run away with investors’ funds.

  • Shill: The act of promoting something for personal gain.

  • Short Selling: The practice of selling an asset that you do not own, with the intention of buying it back later at a lower price.

  • Sniper Bot: An automated trading strategy that sends orders to the market in advance of large, anticipated trades.

  • Staking: Pledging cryptocurrency to validate transactions on the blockchain.

  • Sweep the Floor: Buying the cheapest listed NFTs of a particular collection.

  • Trading: Buying and selling assets.

  • Wash Trade: A form of market manipulation where an investor simultaneously buys and sells an asset to create artificial activity.

  • Whitewashing: Buying and selling to oneself to give the appearance of high trading volume.

  • Yield Farm: Earning interest on crypto holdings.

5. NFT and Digital Art

  • Airdrop: Term associated with the release of new tokens or NFTs.

  • Beeple: Famous digital artist (Michael Winkelmann) in the NFT space, who sold his digital work, “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days” for $3.9 M in February 2021.

  • Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC): A series of unique NFT generative JPGs serving as membership cards.

  • Burn (address): Sending tokens to an unusable account, removing them from circulation.

  • Burnt Banksy: Artist known for burning a Banksy painting and turning the performance into an NFT which sold for $380,000 in March 2021.

  • Christie’s, Sotheby’s: Famous auction houses.

  • Collector: An individual or organization that collects art.

  • CryptoPunks: One of the first NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain.

  • Curator: An individual who selects and interprets works of art.

  • Digital Art: Art created or presented in digital form.

  • Drop: Term associated with the release of new tokens or NFTs.

  • Dutch Auction: An auction in which the item is initially offered at a high price, then lowered until a participant accepts.

  • Fidenza: Fidenza is a series of algorithmically generated art pieces created by software artist Tyler Hobbs on the Art Blocks platform.

  • GAN Art: GAN stands for Generative Adversarial Network, a class of artificial intelligence algorithms used in machine learning. GAN Art refers to artwork that is created using these GANs.

  • Generative NFTs: NFT art that is generated algorithmically using algorithms and user input.

  • Larva Labs: Creators of CryptoPunks.

  • Metadata: Data that describes other data, often used in the context of NFTs to describe the attributes of the token.

  • Mint: To create or issue a new unit of a certain digital asset, such as an NFT.

  • NFT: Non-Fungible Token, a unique digital asset whose ownership is verified using blockchain technology.

  • Provenance: The chronology of the ownership, custody, or location of a historical object, often used with NFTs to prove authenticity.

  • Smart Contract: Self-executing contracts with the terms directly written into code.

  • Utility: How useful or practical something is.

  • Utility Token: A token designed to give users access to a product or service within an ecosystem.

  • Value Prop: Value Proposition is what makes a product attractive to customers.

  • XCOPY: XCOPY is a pseudonymous London-based NFT artist known for their distinctive glitched digital art.

  • Yuga Labs: Creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club.

6. Technology and Development

  • Charged Particle NFT: Charged Particle NFTs are unique digital assets that contain other assets within them, like interest-bearing tokens or other NFTs, allowing them to accrue value over time. This concept blends NFTs and DeFi (Decentralized Finance) to create digital assets that are more dynamic than traditional NFTs.

  • Cross-Chain, Side chain: Different methodologies to enable tokens and other assets to be used across multiple blockchain networks.

  • Discord, Telegram, WhatsApp: Platforms used for community engagement in the crypto space.

  • Dynamic NFT: Dynamic NFTs are non-fungible tokens that can change or evolve based on certain conditions or programmed behaviors. Unlike static NFTs, which represent unchanging data, dynamic NFTs can interact with various stimuli like time, user interaction, or even other smart contracts to change their attributes or appearance.

  • Founder: A person who has started a particular group, organization, or cause.

  • GitHub: A platform where developers store their projects and code so that others can fork it (copy and develop) as part of open source ethos.

  • Governance Token: Tokens that give holders the right to influence a project’s direction, and are often employed by DAOs.

  • Oracle: Services that connect real-world data with blockchain applications.

  • Ordinal: A satoshi that has been identified according to the block it was minted in on the Bitcoin blockchain. These can have ‘inscriptions’ added, which makes them similar to NFTs.

  • Private Key, Public Key: Cryptographic keys used in the encryption and decryption process.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto: The pseudonymous creator(s) of Bitcoin.

  • Solidity, Rust: Programming languages used in the crypto development of Ethereum and Solana, respectively.

7. Metaverse and Virtual Reality

  • Decentraland: A decentralized virtual reality platform which hosts events such as parties, art exhibitions, fashion shows, and live music festivals.

  • Metaverse: A collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and interactive virtual spaces.

  • Metaverse Real Estate: Virtual land ownership within the metaverse.

  • Otherside: A gamified, interoperable metaverse by Yuga Labs.

  • Somnium Space: An open, social, and persistent VR world where players can buy land, have avatars, build objects, and earn money.

  • The Sandbox: Virtual world where players can own and monetize their gaming experiences, build unique experiences, or design voxel-based NFTs.

8. Security and Privacy

  • Bot: An automated program used within the crypto space for various tasks.

  • Cold Wallet: A wallet kept completely offline and used for storing cryptocurrencies.

  • Crypto Mixer/Tumbler: Services that improve the privacy of cryptocurrencies.

  • Hacking, White Hat: Activities related to unauthorized access (hacking) or security improvements to systems (the good guy, white hat).

  • Lazarus Group: A North Korean cybercrime group.

  • Ledger: A hardware wallet brand for storing cryptocurrencies.

  • Multisig Wallet: A cryptocurrency wallet that requires approval with multiple keys to authorize a transaction.

  • Seed Phrase: A list of words that store all the information needed to recover a cryptocurrency wallet.

  • Smart Contract Auditing: The process of evaluating the code of a smart contract to ensure its security, functionality, and efficiency.

  • Sybil Attack: A security threat where a single adversary controls multiple nodes on a network, primarily to carry out malicious actions.

9. Influencers and Community Terms

  • Alpha: Exclusive news or valuable information.

  • Bearish: An expectation that a set of financial instruments will decrease in value.

  • Bitcoin Maxi (Maximalist): A person who believes in and promotes the superiority of Bitcoin over other cryptocurrencies.

  • Degen: Short for degenerate, often used to describe high-risk traders in the crypto space.

  • Doxxed: When personal information is revealed online.

  • FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out, anxiety about missing out on a trend or investment opportunity.

  • Fren: Gender-neutral, online crypto slang for “friend.”

  • FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, a strategy used to make investors sell their assets.

  • Influencer: An individual with the power to affect purchase decisions due to their authority, knowledge, or relationship with their audience.

  • Paper Hands, Diamond Hands: Terms to describe an investor’s behavior regarding selling (paper) or holding (diamond).

  • Probably nothing: An ironic way of saying that one should pay attention to whatever that “nothing” is; it could be important!”

  • Ser: Common crypto slang for “sir.”

  • To the moon: The term “mooning” describes a cryptocurrency experiencing a significant uptrend, while “to the moon” expresses a strong belief in its imminent price surge.

  • Web1, Web2, Web3: Different stages of the internet’s development, with web3 being the decentralized version of the internet.

  • Whale: A person who owns large amounts of cryptocurrency.

  • Wen/wat: Instead of “when Lambo?” you may often see “wen Lambo?” or “wen moon?” on Twitter. This is a way of ridiculing people who are only interested in quick and easy profits.

10. Platforms and Exchanges

  • Blur NFT Marketplace: Launched in October 2022, Blur is an Ethereum-based NFT marketplace that has quickly gained prominence, surpassing OpenSea in trading volume. It is designed primarily for professional traders.

  • OpenSea: OpenSea is one of the largest and most popular decentralized NFT (Non-Fungible Token) marketplaces that allows users to buy, sell, and explore a wide range of digital assets. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, OpenSea provides a decentralized platform where users can trade various types of NFTs including art, collectibles, domain names, and more. It’s often considered the go-to platform for NFT transactions and has gained significant traction as the NFT market has exploded in popularity.

  • Uniswap, Binance, Pancake Swap, Coinbase, Sushi: Various platforms used for exchanging, trading, or purchasing cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

11. Blockchain Fundamentals

  • Algorithm: A set of rules or processes to be followed in calculations, especially by a computer. In blockchain, algorithms are used for various purposes like mining and consensus mechanisms.

  • Block Explorer: An online tool to view all transactions that have taken place on the blockchain.

  • Consensus, Algorithm: The method by which a blockchain maintains integrity and agreement.

  • Crypto, Token, Blockchain: Basic elements of the crypto space. Crypto refers to cryptocurrencies, tokens are a type of crypto, and blockchain is the technology behind it all.

  • Cryptocurrency: A digital or virtual form of currency using cryptography for security.

  • Decentralization, Transparency, Immutability, Trustless: Core principles and characteristics of blockchain technology.

  • Ethereum, Fiat: Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source blockchain system, and Fiat refers to government-issued currency.

  • Fork, Hard Fork: Changes to the protocol of a blockchain.

  • Hashrate: The computational power used in mining and processing transactions on a blockchain network.

  • Immutability: The unchangeable nature of blockchain, where once data has been written, it cannot be changed.

  • Interoperability: The ability for different blockchain protocols to work with each other.

  • Layer 1: The foundational blockchain layer where all transactions are processed and stored.

  • Layer 2: A secondary framework or protocol built on top of an existing blockchain network to improve its scalability and efficiency.

  • Mainnet: The main blockchain network for a project, as opposed to a testnet.

  • Network, Node: A network refers to the interconnected system of blockchain, while a node is an internet-enabled device.

  • Onboarding: The process of integrating new users or clients.

  • Open Source: Software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified.

  • Optimistic Rollup: A Layer 2 scaling solution that assumes all transactions are honest and only runs full validation when a fraud-proof is submitted.

  • Oracle: A source of external data that smart contracts can query to interact with the real world.

  • Permissionless: A type of blockchain that allows anyone to join, participate, and interact with the network.

  • Pseudonymous: Operating under a name that is not one’s true name, often used to describe the semi-anonymous nature of transactions on many blockchain networks.

  • Scalability: Scalability refers to the ability to handle growing amounts of work.

  • Scarcity: Digital scarcity refers to coding digital assets to have a permanently limited supply, artificially creating rarity. NFTs use built-in scarcity to boost the value of digital assets like art, music, and virtual real estate. They let creators tokenize and sell these assets as one-of-a-kind items.

  • Testnet: A testing network used to simulate the behavior of the network.

  • Transparency: The quality of being open and not secretive is a foundational aspect of many blockchain projects.

  • Trustless: A system where trust between participants is not necessary because it is replaced by verified mathematical calculations.

  • Virtual Machine: A software emulation of a computer system that runs programs like a physical machine.

  • Whitepaper: A report that informs readers concisely about a complex issue, often used in crypto to present the specifics of a new project.

  • ZK-rollup: A Layer 2 scaling solution that bundles multiple transfers into a single transaction, using zero-knowledge proofs to maintain the security of the Layer 1 blockchain.

This article was published in collaboration with the BanklessDAO Writers Cohort.

Author Bio

beejorama hails from Hollywood, having spent over two decades as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. His passion extends beyond the silver screen to the realms of quantum and meta physics, AI, and blockchain, where he brings a unique blend of storytelling prowess and keen insight to the decentralized world.

Editor Bio

trewkat is a writer, editor, and designer at BanklessDAO. She’s interested in learning about applications for blockchain and NFTs, with a particular focus on how best to communicate this knowledge to others.

Designer Bio

Tonytad is a graphic designer who has worked locally and internationally with organisations and firms on over 200 projects, which includes branding, logos, flyers, cards, and covers.

BanklessDAO is an education and media engine dedicated to helping individuals achieve financial independence.

This post does not contain financial advice, only educational information. By reading this article, you agree and affirm the above, as well as that you are not being solicited to make a financial decision, and that you in no way are receiving any fiduciary projection, promise, or tacit inference of your ability to achieve financial gains.

Bankless Publishing is always accepting submissions for publication. We’d love to read your work, so please submit your article here!

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