Skip to main content

Cryptocurrency

A digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

Glossary of Terms

0-9  --  A  --  B -- C -- D -- E -- F -- G -- H -- I -- J -- K -- L -- M -- N -- O -- P -- Q -- R -- S -- T -- U -- V -- W -- X -- Y -- Z

51% Attack: when more than half of the computing power of a cryptocurrency network is controlled by a single entity or group, this entity or group may issue conflicting transactions to harm the network, should they have the malicious intent to do so.

Addresses (Cryptocurrency addresses): used to receive and send transactions on the network. An address is a string of alphanumeric characters, but can also be represented as a scannable QR code.

Agreement ledgers: are distributed ledgers used by two or more parties to negotiate and reach agreement.

Altcoin: any digital cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin. The term is said to stand for “alternative to Bitcoin” and is used describe any cryptocurrency that is not a Bitcoin

ASIC: an acronym for “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”. ASICs are silicon chips specifically designed to do a single task. In the case of Bitcoin, they are designed to process SHA-256 hashing problems to mine new bitcoins.

Attestation Ledgers: are distributed ledgers that provide a durable record of agreements, commitments or statements, providing evidence (attestation) that these agreements, commitments or statements were made.

Bagholder: someone still holding an altcoin after a pump and dump crash. Can also just refer to someone holding a coin that is sinking in value with few future prospects.

Bearish: an expectation that price is going to decrease.

Bitcoin: the first decentralized, open source cryptocurrency that runs on a global peer to peer network, without the need for middlemen and a centralized issuer.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH): a type of cryptocurrency that was created in August 2017 and is essentially a clone of the Bitcoin blockchain but has increased block size capacity (from 1 MB to 8 MB) as a way to solve the scaling problem. 

Block: packages of data that carry permanently recorded data on the blockchain network.

Block Ciphers: a method of encrypting text (to produce cipher text) in which a cryptographic key and algorithm are applied to a block of data at once as a group rather than to one bit at a time.

Block Explorer: an online tool to view all transactions, past and current, on the blockchain. They provide useful information such as network hash rate and transaction growth.

Block Height: refers to the number of blocks connected together in the blockchain. For example, Height 0, would be the very first block, which is also called the Genesis Block.

Block Reward: A form of incentive for the miner who successfully calculated the hash in a block during mining. Verification of transactions on the blockchain generates new coins in the process, and the miner is rewarded a portion of those.

Blockchain: A blockchain is a shared ledger where transactions are permanently recorded by appending blocks. The blockchain serves as a historical record of all transactions that ever occurred, from the genesis block to the latest block, hence the name blockchain.

Bollinger Band: A margin around the price of a cryptocurrency that helps indicate when a coin is overbought or oversold.

Bullish: An expectation that price is going to increase.

Central ledger: Refers to a ledger maintained by a central agency.

Chain linking: is the process of connecting two blockchains with each other, thus allowing transactions between the chains to take place. This will allow blockchains like Bitcoin to communicate with other sidechains, allowing the exchange of assets between them

Cipher: is the algorithm used for the encryption and/or decryption of information. In common language, ‘cipher’ is also used to refer to an encryption message, also known as ‘code’.

Circulating supply: An approximation of the number of coins or tokens that are circulating in the public market.

Cold storage: The process of moving cryptocurrency ‘offline’, as a way of safekeeping it from hacking.

Confirmation: The successful act of hashing a transaction and adding it to the blockchain.

Consensus: Consensus is achieved when all participants of the network agree on the validity of the transactions, ensuring that the ledgers are exact copies of each other.

Consortium blockchain: is a blockchain where the consensus process is controlled by a pre-selected set of nodes.

Cryptoanalysis: is the study of methods for obtaining the meaning of encrypted information, without access to the secret information that is normally required to do so.

Cryptocurrency: A type of digital currency based on mathematics, where encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds. Cryptocurrencies operate independently of a central bank.

Cryptographic Hash Function: Cryptographic hashes produce a fixed-size and unique hash value from variable-size transaction input. The SHA-256 computational algorithm is an example of a cryptographic hash.

Cryptography: refers to the process of encrypting and decrypting information.

Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO): a corporation run without any human involvement under the control of an incorruptible set of business rules.

​dApp: A decentralised application that is open source, operates autonomously, has its data stored on a blockchain, incentivised in the form of cryptographic tokens and operates on a protocol that shows proof of value.

DASH: A type of cryptocurrency based on Bitcoin software but has anonymity features that makes it impossible to trace transactions to an individual and other capabilities. It was created by Evan Duffield in 2014 and was previously known as XCoin (XCO) and Darkcoin. 

Decentralized: A state where there is no central control, power or function, or in reference to infrastructure, no central point of failure.

Decryption: the process of turning cipher-text back into plaintext.

Difficulty: This refers to how easily a data block of transaction information can be mined successfully.

Digital commodity: is a scarce, electronically transferrable, intangible, with a market value.

Digital identity: is an online or networked identity adopted or claimed in cyberspace by an individual, organization, or electronic device.

Digital Signature: A digital code generated by public key encryption that is attached to an electronically transmitted document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

Distributed consensus: Collective agreement by various computers in a network and allows it to work in a decentralized, P2P manner without the need of central authority to deter dishonest network participants.

Distributed Ledgers: ledgers in which data is stored across a network of decentralized nodes. Distributed ledger data can be either “permissioned” or “unpermissioned” to control who can view it.

Distributed Network: a type of network where processing power and data are spread over the nodes rather than having a centralised data centre.

Double spend: refers to a scenario, in the Bitcoin network, where someone tries to send a bitcoin transaction to two different recipients at the same time. However, once a bitcoin transaction is confirmed, it makes it nearly impossible to double spend it. The more confirmations that a particular transaction has, the harder it becomes to double spend the bitcoins.

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA): A coalition of startups and corporations connecting Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics, and technology vendors with Ethereum subject matter experts. 

Encryption: is the process of turning a clear-text message (plaintext) into a data stream (cipher-text), which looks like a meaningless and random sequence of bits.

ERC-20: A type of token standard for Ethereum which ensures the tokens perform in a predictable way. This allows the tokens to be easily exchangeable and able to work immediately with decentralized applications that also use the ERC-20 standard. 

Ether (ETH): A type of cryptocurrency that is used for operating the Ethereum platform and is used to pay for transaction fees and computational tasks. 

Ethereum: An open source, decentralized platform based on blockchain technology created by Vitalik Buterin in 2013. It runs smart contracts on a custom built blockchain that allows developers to create markets, store registries of debts, and so on.

Ethereum Classic (ETC): A type of cryptocurrency that is a continuation of the original Ethereum blockchain

Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM): a Turing complete virtual machine that allows anyone to execute arbitrary EVM Byte Code. Every Ethereum node runs on the EVM to maintain consensus across the blockchain.

EVM code: is the programming language in which accounts on the Ethereum blockchain can contain code. The EVM code associated with an account is executed every time a message is sent to that account, and has the ability to read/write storage and itself send messages.

​Exchanges: Websites where you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies

Fiat currency: refers to currencies that have minimal or no intrinsic value themselves (i.e. they are not backed by commodities like gold or silver) but are defined as legal tender by the government, such as paper bills and coins.

Flipping: A type of investment strategy (popular in real estate investing) where you buy something with the goal of reselling for a profit later, usually in a short period of time. In the context of ICOs, flipping refers to the strategy of investing in tokens before they are listed on the exchanges and reselling them for a profit when they are trading in the secondary market.

FOMO: an acronym that stands for 'fear of missing out' and in the context of investing, refers to the feeling of apprehension for missing out on a potentially profitable investment opportunity and regretting it later.

Fork: A situation where a blockchain splits into two separate chains. Forks generally happen in the crypto-world when new ‘governance rules’ are built into the blockchain’s code. 

FUD: An acronym that stands for "fear, uncertainty and doubt". It is a strategy to influence perception by spreading negative, misleading or false information about something, as opposed to reasoned criticism.

FUDster: Someone that is spreading FUD.

Full node: is a node that fully enforces all of the rules of the blockchain.

Gas: a measurement of how much processing is required by the ethereum network to process a transaction. Simple transactions, like sending ether to another address, typically do not require much gas. More complex transactions, like deploying a smart contract, require more gas.

Gas limit: a term used in the Ethereum platform that refers to the maximum amount of units of gas the user is willing to spend on a transaction. The transaction must have enough gas to cover the computational resources needed to execute the code. All unused gas is refunded at the end of the transaction.

Gas price: a term used in the Ethereum platform that refers to the price you are willing to pay for a transaction. Setting a higher gas price will make miners more incentivized to prioritize and validate that particular transaction ahead of those set with a lower gas price. Gas prices are typically denominated in Gwei

Genesis Block: the first block of data that is processed and validated to form a new blockchain, often referred to as block 0.

Gwei: Another denomination of ether. Gas prices are most often measured in Gwei. 1 Ether = 1000000000 Gwei.

Halving: Bitcoins have a finite supply, which makes them a scarce digital commodity. The total amount of bitcoins that will ever be issued is 21 million. The number of bitcoins generated per block is decreased 50% every four years. This is called “halving.” The final halving will take place in the year 2140.

Hard cap: The maximum amount that an ICO will be raising. If an ICO reaches its hard cap, they will stop collecting any more funds. 

Hard Fork: A type of fork that renders previously invalid transactions valid, and vice versa. This type of fork requires all nodes and users to upgrade to the latest version of the protocol software.

Hardware wallet: A device that can securely store cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets are often regarded as the most secure way to hold cryptocurrency.

Hash: also referred to as "hash value" or a message digest, it is a number generated from a string of text. The hash is substantially smaller than the text itself, and is generated by a formula in such a way that it is extremely unlikely that some other text will produce the exact same hash value. This is used for confirming coin transactions.

Hashrate: the number of hashes that can be performed by a bitcoin miner in a given period of time (usually a second).

Hashcash: a proof-of-work system used to limit email spam and denial-of-service attacks, and more recently has become known for its use in bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) as part of the mining algorithm.

HODL: a type of passive investment strategy where you hold an investment for a long period of time, regardless of market volatility. Also referred to as 'buy and hold' or 'hold on for dear life'.

Hybrid PoS/PoW: A hybrid PoS/PoW allows for both Proof of Stake and Proof of Work as consensus distribution algorithms on the network. In this method, a balance between miners and voters (holders) may be achieved, creating a system of community-based governance by both insiders (holders) and outsiders (miners).

Initial Coin Offering (ICO): is an event in which a new cryptocurrency sells advance tokens from its overall coinbase, in exchange for upfront capital. ICOs are frequently used for developers of a new cryptocurrency to raise capital.

IOTA (MIOTA): refers to the cryptocurrency and the name of an open source distributed ledger founded in 2015 that does not use blockchain (it uses a new distributed ledger called the Tangle). It is focused on the Internet of Things. 

Ledger: is an append-only record store, where records are immutable and may hold more general information than financial records.

Ledger Nano S/Trezor: Two of the most popular hardware wallet models.

Lightning Network: a low latency, off chain P2P system for making micropayments of cryptocurrencies. It offers features such as instant payments, scalability, low cost and cross-chain functionality. Participants do not have to make individual transactions public on the blockchain and security is enforced by smart contracts. For more information, visit the official website or the whitepaper.

Limit order/limit buy/limit sell: Orders placed by traders to buy or sell a cryptocurrency when the price meets a certain amount. They can be thought of as ‘for-sale’ signs. These orders are what are bought and sold against when traders place market orders.

Litecoin (LTC): a type of ​peer-to-peer cryptocurrency  created by former Google employee Charlie Lee in 2011 and based on the Scrypt proof-of-work network. Sometimes referred to as the silver of bitcoin’s gold.

MACD: Moving Average Convergence Divergence. A trend indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of prices.

Margin trading: The act of ‘magnifying’ the intensity of your trades by risking your existing coins. 

Market Cap: The total value held in a cryptocurrency. It is calculated by multiplying the total supply of coins by the current price of an individual unit.

Mining: A process where transactions are verified and added to a blockchain. It is also the process where new bitcoins or certain altcoins are created. In theory, anyone with the necessary hardware and access to the internet can be a miner and earn income, but the cost of industrial hardware and electricity has limited mining for bitcoins and certain altcoins today to large-scale operations.

Mining rig: A computer especially designed for processing proof-of-work blockchains, like Ethereum. They often consist of multiple high-end graphic processors (GPUs) to maximize their processing power.

Monero (XMR): A type of cryptocurrency created in 2014 that is focused on privacy and scalability, and runs on platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Transactions on Monero are designed to be untraceable to any particular user or real world identity. 

Mooning: In the crypto-world, this slang term refers to a price going up astronomical levels.

Multi-Signature: Multi-signature addresses provide an added layer of security by requiring more than one key to authorize a transaction.

NEM (XEM): Refers to the cryptocurrency and the name of a platform for management of a variety of assets, including currencies, supply chains, ownership records, etc. 

NEO: Refers to the cryptocurrency and the name of a China's first open source blockchain that was founded in 2014 by Da Hongfei. It is similar to Ethereum in its ability to execute smart contracts or dApps but has some technical differences such as coding language compatibility.

Node: A copy of the ledger operated by a participant of the blockchain network.

Oracles: Oracles work as a bridge between the real world and the blockchain by providing data to the smart contracts.

Peer-to-peer (P2P): refers to the decentralized interactions that happen between at least two parties in a highly interconnected network. P2P participants deal directly with each other through a single mediation point.

Permissioned blockchains: provide highly-verifiable data sets because the consensus process creates a digital signature, which can be seen by all parties.

Permissioned ledger: is a ledger where actors must have permission to access the ledger. Permissioned ledgers may have one or many owners. When a new record is added, the ledger’s integrity is checked by a limited consensus process. This is carried out by trusted actors — government departments or banks, for example — which makes maintaining a shared record much simpler that the consensus process used by unpermissioned ledgers.

Proof-of-stake (PoS): A consensus distribution algorithm that rewards earnings based on the number of coins you own or hold. The more you invest in the coin, the more you gain by mining with this protocol.

Proof-of-work (PoW): A consensus distribution algorithm that requires an active role in mining data blocks, often consuming resources, such as electricity. The more ‘work’ you do or the more computational power you provide, the more coins you are rewarded with.

Pre-sale: a sale that takes place before an ICO is made available to the general public to participate.

Private key: a string of data that allows you to access the tokens in a specific wallet. They act as passwords that are kept hidden from anyone but the owner of the address.

Proof of Authority: a consensus mechanism in a private blockchain which essentially gives one client (or a specific number of clients) with one particular private key the right to make all of the blocks in the blockchain

Protocols: sets of formal rules describing how to transmit or exchange data, especially across a network.

Public Address: A public address is the cryptographic hash of a public key. They act as email addresses that can be published anywhere, unlike private keys.

Pump and Dump: The recurring cycle of an altcoin getting a lot of attention, leading to a fast price increase, and then being followed by a huge crash.

QR Code: a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.

Raiden Network: An upcoming protocol change to Ethereum that will enable high-speed transfers across the network. It is similar in some aspects to Bitcoin’s planned Lightning Network. 

Ripple (XRP): Ripple is a payment network built on distributed ledgers that can be used to transfer any currency. The network consists of payment nodes and gateways operated by authorities. Payments are made using a series of IOUs, and the network is based on trust relationships.

Scrypt: an alternative proof of work system to SHA-256, used by Litecoin. It is designed to be particularly friendly to CPU and GPU miners, while offering little advantage to ASIC miners. Compared to SHA256, this is quicker as it does not use up as much processing time.

Segregated Witness (SegWit): The process where the block size limit on a blockchain is increased by removing digital signature data and moving it to the end of a transaction to free up capacity. Transactions are essentially split (or 'segregated'), into two segments: the original data segment and the signature (or 'witness') segment.

SHA 256: a cryptographic algorithm used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It uses a lot of computing power and processing time, forcing miners to form mining pools to capture gains.

Sharding: A scaling solution for blockchains. Typically, every node in a blockchain network houses a complete copy of the blockchain. Sharding is a method that allows nodes to have partial copies of the complete blockchain in order to increase overall network performance and consensus speeds.

Sidechain: a separate blockchain attached to the parent through the use of a two-way peg which allows for assets to be interchangeable and moved across the chain at a fixed deterministic exchange rate.

Smart contract: An automated mechanism involving two or more parties where digital assets are put in and redistributed at a later date based on some preset formula and triggering event. The contract can run as programmed without any downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

Soft cap: Generally refers to the minimum amount that an initial coin offering (ICO) needs to raise. If the ICO is unable to raise that amount, it may be canceled and the collected funds returned to participants.

Soft Fork: a change to the bitcoin protocol wherein only previously valid blocks/transactions are made invalid. Since old nodes will recognize the new blocks as valid, a softfork is backward-compatible. This kind of fork requires only a majority of the miners upgrading to enforce the new rules

Software wallet: Storage for cryptocurrency that exists purely as software files on a computer. Software wallets can be generated for free from a variety of sources.

Solidity: Solidity is Ethereum’s programming language for developing smart contracts.

Stable coin: A cryptocurrency with extremely low volatility that can be used to trade against the overall market.

Stream ciphers: a method of encrypting text (cyphertext) in which a cryptographic key and algorithm are applied to each binary digit in a data stream, one bit at a time.

TA: Trend Analysis or Technical Analysis. Refers to the process of examining current charts in order to predict which way the market will move next.

Testnet: A test blockchain used by developers to prevent expending assets on the main chain.

The Flippening: refers to the possible future event when Ethereum overtakes Bitcoin to become the most valuable cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization.

Token: a digital identity for something that can be owned.

Tokenless ledger: refers to a distributed ledger that doesn’t require a native currency to operate.

Total supply: The total number of coins or tokens that are in existence, including those circulating in the public market and those that are locked or reserved. Also known as "maximum supply".

Transaction block: a collection of transactions gathered into a block that can then be hashed and added to the blockchain.

Transaction Fee: All cryptocurrency transactions involve a small transaction fee. These transaction fees add up to account for the block reward that a miner receives when he successfully processes a block.

Turing Complete: refers to the ability of a machine to perform calculations that any other programmable computer is capable of. An example of this is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

Unpermissioned ledger: The purpose of an unpermissioned ledger is to allow anyone to contribute data to the ledger and for everyone in possession of the ledger to have identical copies.

Wei: The smallest denomination of ether. 1 Ether = 1000000000000000000 Wei.

Whale: Someone that owns absurd amounts of cryptocurrency.

Whitelist: A list of registered and approved participants that are given exclusive access to contribute to an ICO or a pre-sale.

Whitepaper: An informational document that generally informs readers on the philosophy, objectives and technology of a project or initiative. Whitepapers are often provided before the launch of a new coin or token