Learn the crypto Lingo

Altcoin – a cryptocurrency which isn’t bitcoin. Includes Ethereum (see flippening), Litecoin, Ripple, Monero, Dash and about 800 others (see maximalist).

ASIC – Application Specific Integrated Circuit. These are the specialised silicon chips which process the SHA-256 algorithm to mine bitcoin and validate transactions.

ASIC Miners – this is the hardware which houses the ASIC silicon chip. Connected to the internet.

Bitcoin – Digital money which is based upon cryptography, invented by Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitpay – Bitcoin processing company who allow merchants to accept bitcoin as a payment method.

Blockchain – a distributed and peer to peer digital ledger.

Block Reward – this is the cryptocurrency reward that miners receive for successfully hashing a transaction block.

BTC – symbol for bitcoin

Charlie Lee – creator of Litecoin.

Charlie Shrem – flamboyant and early bitcoin entrepreneur.

Coinbase – world’s most popular and reliable cryptocurrency web wallet.


Cold Storage – secure way of keeping cryptocurrencies off exchange.

Cryptocurrency – generic term for digital and cryptography based money.

DAO – now de-listed, the distributed autonomous organisation set the record in May 2016 for the largest crowdfunding in history.

Difficulty – the level of resistance encountered when trying to hash a new block in the bitcoin blockchain.

ETH – symbol for Ether, token of the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum – a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts.


Exchange – where fiat money can be exchanged for bitcoin or altcoins.

Faucet – a reward system on a website that dispenses bitcoin in the form of a Satoshi (a hundred millionth of a bitcoin)

Fiat – the name for bank issued money, derived from the latin ‘let it be’. Flippening – the name given for the event where a cryptocurrency who surpasses bitcoin in market capitalisation (yet to happen at time of writing).

Forging – the name giving to the process in proof of stake blockchains where there is no block reward. Forgers keep transaction fees instead.

Fork – what happens when a blockchain diverges into two potential paths forward.

Genesis Block – the first block to be mined in a blockchain.

Halving – the rate at which the block reward creates new bitcoin, halving every four years.

Bitcoin Halving

Hard Fork – new blockchain software that is non-backwards compatible, causing a chain split.

Hard Wallet – device which allows cold storage of coins, for increased security.

Hash – the name for an algorithm which takes an arbitrary sized data set and converts it to a fixed length and composition. Bitcoin uses the SHA-256 algorithm (converting to 256 bit data sets).

Hash Rate – the amount of hashes a miner can perform in a period of time.

HODL – crypto slang for hold your coins.

Initial Coin Offerings – cryptocurrency often (but not always) built on Ethereum which raise money on the basis of an idea.

Lightening Network – builds on networks like bitcoin and litecoin to allow off-chain settlements.

Litecoin – digital silver, created by Charlie Lee for high frequency transactions. Uses the scrypt hashing algorithm.


LTC – symbol for Litecoin

Market Capitalisation – the value of cryptocurrency as determined by price (x) circulating supply of coins.

Maximalist – another crypto slang term for a bitcoin believer who is sceptical of altcoins.

Mining – the process used to create coins or tokens and verify transactions on a proof of work blockchain

Moon – optimistic price projection often used in the crypto coin communities.

Nick Szabo – creator of bitgold, an unimplemented forerunner of bitcoin. Thought by some to be Satoshi Nakamoto, which he always denies.

OCD – Obsessive Cryptocurrency Disorder. Suffered by those who can’t stop monitoring the value of their coins.

Paper Wallet – a form of cold storage. These are public and private keys held on a piece of paper. A good designer can make them look like branded bank notes.

Poloniex – popular cryptocurrency exchange.

Private Key – a secret number that allows bitcoins to be spent.

Proof of Work – this is difficult and costly to produce, but easy to verify by others. The mechanism used in the bitcoin blockchain.

Proof of Stake – a blockchain where there is no block reward or mining, as the creator is determined depending on stake (see forging). Less energy intensive than proof of work.

Public Key – usually represented as a bitcoin address, this is the information needed to receive bitcoin.

Ripple – a pre-mined token used by banks for settlement, created and distributed by Ripple Labs.

Satoshi Nakamoto – the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin.

Scrypt – the hashing algorithm used by Litecoin.

Segregated Witness – is a proposed scaling solution for bitcoin involving a soft fork.

SHA-256 – the algorithm used for bitcoin hash creation (bitcoin’s proof of work).

Silk Road – the first modern dark net market, achieved notoriety. Subsequently shut down by the FBI who then auctioned confiscated bitcoins.

Smart contracts – applications that run as programmed, without external influence.

Soft Fork – new software that is backwards compatible, so the blockchain doesn’t split.

Solidity – the programming language used by Ethereum.

Vitalik Buterin – creator of Ethereum.

Vitalik Buterin

Wallet – the software that allows the spending, receiving and storing of cryptocurrency.

Winklevoss Twins – early proponents of bitcoin, tried to establish a bitcoin ETF (exchange traded fund) which was rejected in March 2017.

XRP – symbol for Ripple.

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