Gm. It’s a beautiful day to break down blockchain slang, because browsing a Web3 Discord channel can feel a lot like cracking open A Clockwork Orange to a random page and trying to figure out what a Knifey Moloko is. If we lost you at “gm,” then you’re in the right place. (It means “good morning,” btw.)
The crypto community has developed its own hyperspecific language for chatting about the latest NFT drop or SEC regulation. Crypto’s insider speak has made it easier to communicate about blockchain-specific topics. Instead of unpacking what a non-fungible token is or glossing over its definition as a “digital asset,” you can simply say NFT. The lingo is fun and bonds the community, but for outsiders, it can be a high bar for entry.
That’s in part because many crypto projects use Discord as their communications hubs. Discord only has 150 million monthly active users globally, 79% of whom come from outside of the US. That means its base is much smaller than Pinterest’s (433 million) and Twitter’s (an estimated 450 million), let alone those of Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. Plus, for most communities, users have to receive an invite in order to join each private “server.” There’s no way to casually lurk on a server like you would a subreddit; you must have the golden ticket to see the chocolate river. The only way you can access the Bored Ape group chat is to buy an NFT, which can cost up to $3.4 million. But at least there you get to say “gm” to Paris Hilton. Using language to separate us and them isn’t new: Virtually every niche community does it. Lexicographer Jonathon Green has spent his career studying English slang and attributes its first known use to criminal groups in operation 500 years ago who wanted to suss out authorities with small talk. Nowadays, snowboarders bomb runs, consultants will circle back on your ping by EOD, and gamers have the perfect build for their favorite roguelike action dungeon crawler.
The lexicon of crypto recently experienced a seismic shift as crypto prices plummeted and ripped off the community’s rose-colored laser eyes, so the lingo changes quickly. As much as it can create a sense of community, it also gatekeeps it from outsiders. To help lower that gate, we’ve rounded up a sampling of terms floating to the top of blockchain chats lately, as well as others that are past their heyday. This little list goes beyond the basics to the terms we’re seeing the most often and those that are most often misunderstood.
- dApp. Decentralized applications are open-source software apps. While a traditional app runs on centralized servers, a dApp is built on blockchain-backed networks, often the Ethereum platform (it’s more than just a cryptocurrency). Like traditional applications, a dApp’s function can range from personal finance to gaming.
- Fiat. If you’ve only used “traditional” currencies tied to a government, you might not be aware that they’re formally known as fiat. The dollar? That’s fiat. With crypto gaining popularity, this distinction between crypto and fiat is vital.
- Gm. Literally “good morning.” Figuratively, it means you’re a part of the crypto scene. Everyone from Pepsi to Shaq has tweeted the little phrase, and some Discord channels have entire channels dedicated to just saying it, on repeat, forever.
- KYC. “Know Your Customer” is a process that screens investors to grant them access to, for instance, buy an NFT right when it drops. It’s also used as a verb: “Getting KYC’d.”
- Rug pull. A specific type of scam where a developer (usually anonymous, which is the norm in crypto) attracts investors to a project and then takes all the money without seeing the project through, pulling the rug out from under investors. ICYMI: Crypto is rife with scams like these. Variations like “rugged” are also common.
- Salute emoji or . Emojipedia says the saluting face emoji is “used as a sign of respect.” Bitcoin miner Zack Voell told Morning Brew that crypto enthusiasts in particular use it as a signal to convey “we’re all in this; just hang in there.”
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- Whale. A crypto whale is any individual or entity that owns a significant portion (usually 10% or more) of a particular cryptocurrency—so much that when a whale unloads their stake, it impacts the price of the currency. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried are two of the biggest whales today.
The bygones: With a Turbo Drop dip in crypto prices, some of the more happy-go-lucky language has lost popularity.
- Diamond hands or 💎🙌. Diamond hands originated in the infamous subreddit r/WallStreetBets in early 2021. It indicated an investor was holding their volatile assets with the confidence it would make them rich. It’s another remnant of the pre-2022 era of crypto opulence.
- HFSP. Voell said that “have fun staying poor” or HFSP is out of fashion “because we’re all poor now with prices down.”
- Hodl. “Hold on for dear life” is a rallying cry for keeping your investments rather than selling them, with the tacit understanding that they’ll become more valuable. With crypto prices down, investors don’t seem to be feeling optimistic enough to use this term as much as they used to.
- WGMI or wagmi. The acronym for “we’re all gonna make it” is out of favor because, as Blockchain Capital investor and founder of the NFT platform Minotaur Sterling Campbell told us, “We realized that not everyone was gonna make it.”
This is by no means an exhaustive glossary of blockchain terms and some of them could be cringe within months (maybe they’re already cringe). Share your favorites that we missed here.
Read More:Speak crypto to me