Crypto Lingo: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

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There are some things in this life that I have accepted and will never understand.

First of all, does anyone honestly know what “cookies” are? (The computer genre, obviously, the bakery version is self-explanatory – and far superior). For the last 10 years of my existence, whether I browse a suspicious or credible site, I accept cookies. What are cookies, how are they activated, am I hacked, is my identity stolen, etc…

Another thing I will never understand is the toe ring. The thought of jewelry on my toes makes me physically nauseous.

One-way mirrors. How is one side reflective and the other transparent? Witchcraft I don’t care to investigate.

Call people on the phone. I thought I understood the concept of a phone call pretty well until I sat down with my coffee and thought about it for over 10 seconds. I have no idea how it works. Fax machines are just as mind-boggling.

Space. Following. I don’t want to think about this one.

DVD. How does this little disc contain Shrek? Where is he?

And of course, the star of today’s show and my constant looking nightmare, cryptocurrency. But just because I accepted that I’ll never understand crypto doesn’t mean you have to accept the same fate. (Or even if against my will I do eventually figure it out, I’ll pretend not to to maintain my reputation. English majors shouldn’t engage in such futuristic debauchery).

I thought it was time to make a little crypto dictionary so my future lazy self can send you definitions here that I don’t feel like rewriting…


Investing in crypto requires an interest in video games, a fondness for basements, an appetite for risk, and a whole new vocabulary. (The video game and the basement part are facetious, in a way).

Here’s your beginner’s guide to popular crypto lingo.


1. Bitcoin
If you haven’t heard of bitcoin, you probably don’t own a phone, computer or TV, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. To distill it for those of us who recognize the word bitcoin in the same vein that we’ve heard of “cookies”, that is, have no idea what it is…Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency created in 2009 by an unknown person (or people) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. (I made this list alphabetically, scroll down for more on “Satoshi Nakamoto”).

Unlike traditional currencies such as the US dollar, bitcoin is not controlled by a bank or government. Bitcoin is widely considered the most valuable and popular cryptocurrency in use today.

2. blockchain
Blockchain is the key technology that underpins most cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin Nightmares, Dogecoin, Ethereum, etc.), NFTs (more on those later), and other unique digital items. Technology makes it possible to distribute digital information, but not to copy it. This means that each individual data item can only have one owner.

Blockchain can be used to store all kinds of information, but its most common use so far is to record cryptocurrency transactions. Once a transaction is made, it is posted to this public ledger, which is managed by a global peer-to-peer network.

Blockchain is fundamental to the appeal of cryptocurrency: as a decentralized database, it cannot be controlled by any particular person or group (rah-rah, power to the people, all that good stuff) . This is different from a fiat currency such as the US dollar, which is managed by a central bank.

Read “Blockchain to Ethereum to NFT: The Story of the Creation We Never Wanted”

3. Buy the damn dip (BTFD)
Enter the finance bros and douchebags. This is a rallying cry for crypto bulls that urges investors to buy coins when prices fall.

4. Coinbase
The leading cryptocurrency exchange platform. The company went public in April, an event that many considered a turning point in the history of cryptocurrency’s journey into the mainstream market.

Read “How to Buy Cryptocurrency. (In Canada). (Eh.) to learn more about crypto exchanges.

5. Cryptocurrency
The woman of the hour! Cryptocurrency is an all-digital monetary system consisting of “coins” or “tokens” controlled by a decentralized ledger. (I feel like I did this one very well, very succinct).

6. Dogecoin
As with all nonsense on the internet, this has been taken 100 steps too far. Dogecoin started out as a joke based on the “doge” meme in 2013 and turned into an unexpected heavy hitter in the crypto industry. Dogecoin is unlikely to stand the test of time, but that almost doesn’t matter. Elon Musk is currently pushing the price of Dogecoin with Twitter, and anything he says tends to either raise or lower the price of the coin. My wildly unsolicited advice: stay clear with a 10 foot pole. Then again, I hate crypto.

7. Elon Musk
The square-headed Tesla CEO whose tweets are known to spark rallies in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and dogecoin.

For more unsolicited opinions on the world’s richest man…

Read “Just Billionaire Stuff”
Read “Elon Musk’s Space Capitalism: 1 in 1000 Reason I Can’t Sleep at Night”
Read “Reality Check, Elon Musk is not our Lord or Savior”

8. Ethereum
An open-source blockchain-based software that controls the Ether cryptocurrency.

9. FUD
In crypto jargon, because using full words is apparently far too exhausting for techies, FUD is an acronym for “fear, uncertainty, doubt”. It is commonly used in the cryptocurrency community to describe negative information about a blockchain-based currency or asset. Wikipedia calls it a “propaganda tactic”, but it sounded dramatic.

Used in a sentence: “Dude, stop spreading FUD on dogecoin”.

ten. HODL
Depending on who you ask, it’s either a typo that stuck or it’s an abbreviation of “hold on for life.” Bitcoin bulls often tweet “HODL” in reaction to FUD. And we watch the beauty of the English language disintegrate before our eyes…

The old tradition of the typo dates back to a 2013 post on the bitcointalk forum titled “I AM HODLING”. In it, a seemingly drunk bitcoin investor complained about holding the crypto even as it plummeted. Memes were created and the term became shorthand for an investment strategy.

11. Mining
I didn’t think the concept of mining could get any more mind-numbing than my year 7 excursion to the Britannia Mine Museum where we were forced to learn about the gold rush. Turns out I was wrong.

Cryptocurrency mining is the complicated process by which new “coins” are brought into circulation. Mining is not for amateurs: it requires powerful computers that solve complex mathematical puzzles to create a new “block” on the blockchain. (Exciting things!!)

The mining process consumes a lot of computing power and electricity, which has raised concerns about the environmental impact of the cryptocurrency.

12. NFT
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are pieces of digital content tied to the Ethereum blockchain. “Non-fungible” essentially means one-of-a-kind, something that cannot be replaced, unlike, for example, a dollar bill which you can replace with any other dollar bill. Simply put, NFTs turn digital artworks and other collectibles into unique, verifiable assets.

Read “What is an NFT and can someone make it disappear”

13. Satoshi Nakamoto
The nickname that refers to the person (or people) who invented bitcoin. Their true identity remains unknown.

An extremely reliable website called “cryptopotato.com” explains that in 2008, the anonymous “Satoshi” published an article titled: Bitcoin: “A peer-to-peer electronic payment system”. The Bitcoin white paper explains the problem of centralized electronic payment systems like banks and financial institutions while also proposing how a decentralized and tamper-proof peer-to-peer protocol solves the problem.

14. Satoshis, aka “Sats”
The smallest bitcoin unit ever recorded on the blockchain, equal to one millionth of a bitcoin. I don’t really understand that either. Investopedia explains it here.

15. Wallet
Like the physical thing you carry your cash and cards in, but a much less cute digital version where you store your digital currency. The main thing you should know about wallets is that you should never lose or forget your password.


Until next week.

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