The Web3 Glossary
Jul 13, 2021
Last updated on Jul 14, 2021
Welcome to Web3. A world filled with unicorns, long acronyms, market-moving memes, and slang that changes quicker than a well executed rug pull.
If you’re new to the crypto world, all of its jargon can make it difficult to follow. But fear not - you have come to the right place. This living glossary is updated constantly, so it’s sure to keep you up to date on the latest Web3 slang. As soon as we see something enter the lexicon, it gets added here.
Know of a term that should be here, but is nowhere to be found? Let us know at email@example.com!
- Airdrop- a marketing technique in which crypto projects send their native tokens directly to the wallets of their users in an effort to increase awareness and adoption.
- ATH (All Time High)- the highest price an asset has ever had.
- ATL- (All Time Low)- the lowest price an asset has ever had.
- Altcoin- initially used to refer to any cryptocurrency that wasn’t Bitcoin, altcoin may now refer to any new cryptocurrency with a relatively small market cap.
- Alts- short for altcoins.
- Ape- someone who invests heavily into a cryptocurrency or stock, or the act of doing so. This is usually a reaction to hype and FOMO, and done without much knowledge of the asset. It should be noted, though, that this is generally a self-assigned term and does not carry a negative connotation. Is it a Planet of the Apes reference? Maybe a reference to the sheer physical strength of apes? The origins are a bit blurry, but one thing is certain — apes together strong.
- Bear Market- a prolonged period of decline in a financial market.
- Bearish- similar to a bear market, this refers to holding a pessimistic view of a market or asset’s value. If you are bearish on a certain cryptocurrency, you believe its value will decrease over time.
- Bitcoin- the very first decentralized, peer-to-peer, digital currency, created by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.
- Block- a batch of transactions written to the blockchain. Every block contains information about the previous block, thus, chaining them together.
- Blockchain- a publicly-accessible digital ledger used to store and transfer information without the need for a central authority. Blockchains are the core technology on which cryptocurrency protocols like Bitcoin and Ethereum are built.
- Block Explorer- a tool for browsing information on a blockchain, such as transactions, wallet addresses, market caps, and hash rates.
- Bridge- a protocol allowing separate blockchains to interact with one another, enabling the transfer of data, tokens, and other information between systems.
- Bull Market- a period where market prices are rising.
- Bullish- similar to a bull market, this refers to holding an optimistic view that a market or asset will rise in price. If you are bullish on Bitcoin, you believe that its value will continue to rise over time.
- Burning- the process of removing tokens from a cryptocurrency’s circulating supply, usually done by sending them to an inaccessible wallet address. Other digital assets, such as NFTs, can also be burned via the same process.
- Centralized- a hierarchical structure in which authority and control are concentrated within a small group of decision makers.
- CEX (Centralized Exchange)- a cryptocurrency exchange managed by a centralized business or entity.
i.e. Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken
- CeFi (Centralized Finance)- centralized businesses that participate in crypto.
I.e. BlockFi, DCG, Grayscale
- Coin- a cryptocurrency built on its own native blockchain, intended to be used as a store of value and medium of exchange.
i.e. BTC, ETH, ADA
- Collateral- any asset accepted as security for a loan, such as a physical asset like real estate, or a digital asset like an NFT.
- Cold Wallet- an offline device used to store cryptocurrencies. Cold wallets can be hardware devices or simply sheets of paper containing a user’s private keys. Because cold wallets are not connected to the internet, they are generally a safer method of storing cryptocurrencies.
See also: hot wallet (antonym)
- Consensus- the state of agreement amongst the nodes on a blockchain. Reaching consensus is necessary for new transactions to be verified and new blocks to be added to the blockchain.
- Consensus Mechanism- a process through which nodes on a blockchain come into agreement on a transaction or state of the network.
See: Proof of Work, Proof of Stake
- Cryptocurrency- a digital asset designed to be used as a medium of exchange. Cryptocurrencies are borderless, secure, and maintained by blockchains as opposed to centralized banks or governments.
- DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization)- an organization based on open-source code and governed by its users. DAOs typically focus on a specific project or mission and trade the traditional hierarchical systems of legacy corporations for guidelines written on the blockchain.
- Dapp (Decentralized Application)- an application built on open-source code that lives on the blockchain. Dapps exist independent of centralized groups or figures and often incentivize users to maintain them through rewarded tokens.
- Data- in the context of the internet, data refers to a user’s personal information, such as name, age, location, interest, browsing history, device usage, and purchasing habits. Web3 aims to protect this personal data and give ownership of it back to the user.
- DD- (Due Diligence)- the process of conducting your own research on a cryptocurrency, stock, or other asset before investing. Doing your own DD is essential, as opposed to making an investment based on what someone else says or does.
“This is just based on my own research, so do your DD before investing yourself.”
- Decentralized- a system that operates without the control of a central figure or authority, and replaces it with a distributed peer-to-peer network.
- Degen- initially short for “degenerate gambler.” While this still refers to individuals involved with risky bets, degen may also refer more broadly to anyone involved in crypto and financial spaces. Like with “ape,” this is generally a self-assigned term and does not carry a negative connotation. Degens are a proud people who enjoy ridiculous call options on GME, buying the dip before paying their rent, and occasionally aping into shitcoins.
“Which one of you degens just bought $50K of XRP at its ATH?!”
- DeFi (Decentralized Finance)- the ecosystem of borderless, trustless, peer-to-peer financial tools being built on public blockchains without the use of banks. DeFi apps are built to be open and interconnected, allowing them to be used in conjunction with one another.
- DEX (Decentralized Exchange)- a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange built on the blockchain. A DEX is run by its users and smart contracts instead of an intermediary figure or centralized institution.
i.e. Uniswap, 1inch, Sushiswap
- Diamond Hands- a term implying that you are extremely bullish on a certain asset, and have no plans to sell regardless of market volatility, FUD, or extreme drops in price. Someone who holds onto a cryptocurrency or stock as it drops 40% in a day is said to have diamond hands.
See also: paper hands (antonym)
- Difficulty- the level of computing power needed to verify transactions and mine blocks on a proof-of-work blockchain.
- Difficulty Bomb- the process of increasing the difficulty of a proof-of-work blockchain in order to motivate the transition to another consensus algorithm (such as proof-of-stake in the case of Ethereum).
- DYOR- (Do Your Own Research)- similar to DD, this phrase is used to remind people to conduct their own investigation into an asset before investing in it.
“I’m very bullish on this, but obviously DYOR.”
- EIP- (Ethereum Improvement Proposal)- a standard format for presenting a new feature or process to the Ethereum community.
- ERC- (Ethereum Request for Comments)- the standard smart contract outline on which Ethereum-based smart contracts are built.
- ERC-20- the Ethereum token standard, providing a standardized smart contract structure for fungible tokens.
- ERC-721- an Ethereum token standard that allows for the formation of unique tokens, otherwise known as NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Unlike the ERC-20 standard, ERC-721 tokens have specific properties that allow each to be uniquely identified and valued independently of one another.
- ERC-1155- an Ethereum token standard which allows for fungible, non-fungible, and semi-fungible tokens to be managed by a single smart contract simultaneously. These are commonly used in gaming and collectible trading to reduce the number of necessary transactions.
- Ethereum- a public blockchain serving as the foundation for decentralized applications. Ethereum is a turing complete language, allowing for users to write and deploy complex, self-executing smart contracts which live on the blockchain.
- Few- short for “Few understand”. A rallying cry that crypto folks are still early in this space and will make a lot of money when mass adoption comes.
- Fiat- a currency established as legal tender, often backed and regulated by a government.
- Flippening- a reference to the possible event of Ethereum becoming more valuable than Bitcoin, in terms of market cap. DISCLAIMER: Please do not mention the flippening to Bitcoin maxis. They will not think it is funny, and they will proceed to explain why Ethereum is a shitcoin.
- FOMO- (Fear Of Missing Out)- a feeling of anxiety, stemming from missing out on an opportunity. In investing, this usually coincides with investors buying an asset after it has already seen a considerable increase in price, hoping to get in and out before a pullback occurs. This is known as “FOMOing in” or “aping in.”
- Fork- a change to a blockchain’s protocol. When these changes are minor, this results in a soft fork. When the changes are more fundamental, this may result in a hard fork, leading to the formation of a separate chain with different rules.
See also: hard-fork, soft-fork
- Fractionalization- the process of locking an NFT into a smart contract, and then dividing it into smaller parts which are issued as fungible tokens. This lowers the price of ownership and allows artwork and other digital assets to be owned by a community.
- FUD- (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt)- news around an asset that seems negative, but turns out to be false or blown out of proportion.
- Full Node- a blockchain node which stores the blockchain’s complete history, as well as verifies and relays transactions.
See also: node, light node, master node
- Fungible- interchangeable; exchangeable with something else of the same kind.
See also: non-fungible (antonym)
- Gas- a fee paid by a user to conduct a transaction or execute a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain. This fee is dependent upon the transaction’s complexity as well as the current demand on the network.
See also: gwei
- Genesis Block- the very first block mined on a blockchain.
- GMI- short for “gonna make it.” This term is frequently thrown around on Twitter to voice support for a project or person.
See also: NGMI (antonym)
- Gwei- a denomination of ether used as the unit of measure for Ethereum gas prices. 10^9 gwei = 1 ether.
See also: gas, wei
- Hard Fork- a fundamental change to a blockchain that is not compatible with the existing protocol, requiring the formation of a new chain.
i.e. Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum vs. Ethereum Classic
- Hashing- the process of taking an input of any size and producing a corresponding fingerprint of a fixed-length. Hashing allows a set of data to be secured, stored, and recalled using a unique identifier code. This is the backbone of blockchain technology, allowing data and transactions to be verified and stored in a secure manner.
See also: SHA-256, txn hash
- Hash Rate- also referred to as hash power, this is the rate at which a computer can generate guesses to a cryptographic puzzle. Hash rate can also refer to the overall power being used by the entire network on a proof of work blockchain.
- HFSP- (Have Fun Staying Poor)- a phrase commonly aimed at individuals who do not own any cryptocurrencies, or don’t believe in the value of a certain asset.
“Did you buy some ETH yet?”
“No, crypto is a ponzi-scheme that will crash any day now.”
“LOL okay HFSP.”
- HODL- an expression meaning “hold” and frequently taken to be an acronym for Hold On for Dear Life. This term actually began its life as a typo on an old Bitcointalk.org, where user GameKyuuby explained that he was “HODLING” his bitcoin as the price dropped. The misspelling quickly caught on and is still used today.
- Holding the bag- this is the unfortunate position you find yourself in when an asset you own quickly drops in value but you do not sell. You are thus left holding a bag of worthless coins or stocks. Those who end up in this position are referred to, unsurprisingly, as bagholders.
“I’m not holding the bag. I’m HODLING. The bull market isn’t over.”
- ICO- (Initial Coin Offering)- the selling of tokens to the public in order to raise capital for a crypto-based project . ICOs are a crowdfunding approach, similar to a traditional company’s IPO.
- IEO- (Initial Exchange Offering)- similar to an initial coin offering, or ICO, an initial exchange offering is a method of selling tokens to raise capital, but with increased regulation. Unlike an ICO, which sells new tokens directly to the public, an IEO is managed by an existing cryptocurrency exchange. By working with a known and trusted exchange, IEOs seek to make the ICO process more secure.
- Keys- See public key, private key
- L1 (Layer 1)- this is the blockchain platform itself, also referred to as the base layer, mainchain, or mainnet.
i.e. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Litecoin, Solana, Polkadot
- L2 (Layer 2)- protocols, also referred to as solutions, built on top of a layer 1 blockchain and commonly used to improve scalability, privacy, and add cross-chain communication. Unlike sidechains, which use their own consensus mechanisms, layer 2 solutions are secured by their underlying mainchain.
i.e. Lightning Network, Optimism, Arbitrum
- Lambo- short for Lamborghini. The ability to purchase Lambo is a goalpost for success, used in a myriad of phrases in the crypto and degen spaces. For instance “wen Lambo?” roughly translates to “I just purchased $43 worth of Dogecoin. When will the value of said investment increase enough to enable the purchase of a Lamborghini?”
- Light Node- a blockchain node that downloads just enough data from the blockchain in order to process and verify transactions. Unlike full or master nodes, light nodes do not store a blockchain’s complete history.
- Liquidity- a measure of how easily an asset can be bought, sold, or traded in a given market or on an exchange.
- Liquidity Pool- a collection of user-provided funds locked into a smart contract to facilitate trading on a DeFi platform. On decentralized exchanges and lending protocols liquidity must be provided by the users, as there is no central bank or figure to do so.
- Mainnet- short for main network, this is a main layer 1 blockchain, as opposed to a testnet or layer 2 solution.
See also: L1, testnet
- Market Cap- the total value of an asset based on its current market price. A cryptocurrency’s market cap is found by multiplying the price of a single coin by its circulating supply.
- Master Node- a blockchain node that verifies and relays transactions, stores the blockchain’s complete history, and may participate in voting, governance of the blockchain, and other special operations. Master nodes generally operate on a collateral based system, similar to a Proof-of-Stake protocol.
See also: node, full node, light node
- Mining- in a Proof of Work system, this is the process of verifying transactions, organizing them into blocks, and then adding blocks to the blockchain. Participants who perform this process are called miners.
- Minting- the process of adding a transaction or block to a blockchain.
- Moon / To the moon!- this phrase implies that the value of an asset will go so high that it will reach the literal moon. This is used by shills, bulls, and during a bull market, essentially everyone. Another form of this is “wen moon?” This is used to express one’s impatience with an asset which is not increasing in value as quickly as they had hoped.
See also: Lambo
- Moonboy- a term for social media “financial experts” and YouTubers who are overly optimistic and constantly explaining how a given asset is “about to go to the moon!”
See also: shill
- NFT (Non-fungible token)- a digital certificate of authenticity used to assign and verify ownership of a unique digital or physical asset. Unlike fungible tokens, NFTs are not interchangeable with one another.
See also: ERC-721, non-fungible
- NGMI- short for “not gonna make it.” This is used to imply that a certain project or asset has a low chance of becoming valuable. This can also be directed at an individual, usually someone who had made a poor trade or investment.
“Everyone who sold their ETH during that dip ngmi.”
- Nocoiner- a term used to describe someone who does not hold any cryptocurrencies, or who is generally unfamiliar with crypto.
- Node- any device connected to a blockchain network. Different nodes have varying levels of responsibility, and may help validate transactions, store the blockchain’s history, relay data, and perform other functions. Because blockchains are distributed peer-to-peer networks, nodes come together to create the network’s infrastructure.
See also: full node, light node, master node
- Non-fungible- unique; not interchangeable.
See also: NFT
- Oracle- a service supplying smart contracts with data from the outside world. Smart contracts are unable to access data that exists off-chain, so they rely on oracles to retrieve, verify, and provide external information.
i.e. Chainlink, Band Protocol
- P2P- (Peer-to-peer)- a distributed network of two or more computers which interact directly without a central server or entity.
- Paper Hands- a term used to describe someone who sold a cryptocurrency or stock as its price was falling, usually for a loss. Someone with paper hands is said to be weak and unable to stomach market volatility.
- Private Key- an alphanumeric passcode required to withdraw assets from a blockchain wallet and authorize digital transactions. Because these private keys are long and difficult to memorize, wallets will generally associate them with a seed or recovery phrase that is easier to remember.
See also: public key, seed phrase
- Potentially Promising- first used by Elon Musk to refer to planned upgrades to Dogecoin. Referring to something as being potentially promising quickly caught on, being used both sarcastically and in a serious manner, albeit tongue-in-cheek.
- PoS (Proof of Stake)- a consensus mechanism that requires nodes, called validators, to stake a set amount of cryptocurrency on the blockchain in order to verify transactions and mint blocks. If a validator approves fraudulent transactions, then a portion of their stake will be slashed.
See also: slash
- PoW (Proof of Work)- a consensus mechanism that requires miners to complete complex mathematical puzzles in order to verify transactions and mint blocks. When a miner correctly solves a puzzle, they gain access to mint the next block and receive the corresponding block reward and transaction fees.
See also: miners
- Protocol- the foundational software layer of a program. Protocol has become a general term used to refer to both layer 1 blockchain networks and the layer 2 applications built on top of them — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Uniswap, and Lightning Network can all be considered protocols.
- Public Key- uses to point to your wallet address, this is an alphanumeric code that serves as the address for a blockchain wallet, similar to a bank account number. Other users can send digital assets to your wallet via your public key, but only you can access your wallet’s contents by using the corresponding private key.
See also: wallet address, private key
- Pump and dump- a scheme where a cryptocurrency or other asset is hyped up, leading many to buy into it, raising its price. Those who did the hyping then sell their holdings of the asset as the price rises for a short period of time. This then leads to a sharp selloff where anyone who did not sell suffers a loss.
See also: holding the bag, rekt, rug pull
- Rekt- as in “wrecked,” used to express that one has suffered a huge loss.
- Rug pull- a scam maneuver where a crypto project takes the funds that have been invested into its protocol and runs. An inside job pump-and-dump, if you will. A rug pull can also occur in assets with highly centralized ownership. If someone is able to sell a large portion of the circulating supply at once, this rapidly increases the supply, which can cause the price of the asset to plummet.
- Rollup- a scaling solution that aims to improve transaction throughput and decrease fees by batching multiple transactions off-chain and then submitting them to the main chain as a single transaction.
i.e. Optimism, ZK, Arbitrum
- Satoshis (Sats)- the smallest denomination of BTC, equal to 0.00000001 bitcoin. Satoshis are named after Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Scalability- a protocol’s capacity to handle higher demand and increase transaction throughput as the network grows.
- Seed Phrase- a string of words used as a master password to access a crypto wallet. Because a single wallet can contain multiple accounts, all with their own private keys, a seed phrase makes it easy to access them all with the same password.
- SHA-256- SHA stands for Secure Hashing Algorithm, a set of cryptographic hashing functions designed by the NSA. Essentially, SHA-256 takes an input of data and generates a long sequence of letters and numbers, called a hash. This hash is then used as a secure placeholder for the data it represents.
See also: hashing
- Sharding- a method of separating a network’s nodes out into smaller groups in an attempt to increase scalability. These shards are then able to reach consensus on behalf of the entire network, removing the need for every node to process every transaction.
- Shill- the act of heavily promoting a cryptocurrency, stock, or other asset in an effort to increase adoption and, in turn, raise its price. This is usually done via spamming on social media, and generally carries a negative connotation. A person who performs the act of shilling may also be referred to as a shill.
“I’ve been shilling this new dog coin on Twitter all month, wen Lambo?!”
- Shitcoin- a cryptocurrency with weak fundamentals and little to no use case.
- Sidechain- a parallel blockchain used to offload transactions from the main chain in order to increase scalability or add other functionality. Sidechains are connected to their main chain, or parent chain, via a two-way link which allows data and assets to be seamlessly transferred.
i.e. Matic, Dai
- Slashing- the process of burning or redistributing a validator’s staked cryptocurrency as punishment for approving fraudulent charges or otherwise endangering the network.
- Slippage- the price of a cryptocurrency may change between the time an order is placed and the time that order is ultimately filled. Slippage is the difference between a cryptocurrency’s quoted price and the price that a trade actually executes at.
- Smart Contract- self-executing code deployed on a blockchain. Smart contracts allow transactions to be made without an intermediary figure and without the parties involved having to trust one another.
- Soft Fork- a backwards compatible update to a blockchain. Unlike a hard fork, these changes do not require the creation of a separate chain.
See also: fork, hard fork
- Solidity- the native programming language of Ethereum, mainly used to write smart contracts.
- Stablecoin- a token with its value pegged to another asset. Stablecoins are usually backed by a fiat currency, like the US dollar, but can also be pegged to physical assets like precious metals, or even other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
i.e. USDT, Dai, USDC
- Testnet- a software environment that mimics a mainnet blockchain, used to test network upgrades and smart contracts before deploying them to the mainnet.
- Token- unlike a coin, a token is a digital asset created on an existing blockchain. Tokens can be used to represent digital and physical assets, or used to interact with dapps.
i.e. LINK, UNI, AAVE
- TPS- (Transactions per second)- the number of transactions that a blockchain can handle per second, used as a benchmark to measure its computational power.
- Transaction- data written to a blockchain. New transactions are verified by nodes on the network and then broadcasted to other nodes. Once enough nodes have verified the transaction, it is considered valid and added to a block.
- TVL- (Total Value Locked)- a measure of the assets locked into an dapp’s smart contract, usually expressed in USD.
- Txn Hash- short for transaction hash, or transaction ID. This is a unique identifier used to represent a specific transaction, written as a long string of letters and numbers. By pasting a txn hash into a block explorer like Etherscan, you can find the details of the transaction it represents.
See also: hashing, SHA-256
- Ultrasound Money- a rebuttal against the argument that Bitcoin is “sound money” or the “hardest form of currency” by saying that Ethereum post-EIP 1559 and post-ETH2 merge will be more sound than Bitcoin.
- Up Only- a tongue-in-cheek saying, implying that a cryptocurrency or other asset can only increase in value. This is used to voice one’s bullish stance on an asset, although it may also be used sarcastically.
- Vaporware- a product or project that is announced and marketed but never actually materializes.
- Wallet- a software application or hardware device used to store the private keys to blockchain assets and accounts. Unlike a traditional wallet, a blockchain wallet does not actually store the coins or tokens themselves. Instead, they store the private key that proves ownership of a given digital asset.
i.e. Metamask, Coinbase Wallet, Ledger, Trezor
- Wallet Address- also known as a public key, this is an alphanumeric code that serves as the address for a blockchain wallet, similar to a bank account number. Other users can send digital assets to your wallet via your public key, but only you can access your wallet’s contents by using the corresponding private key.
- Web1- the first iteration of the web, commonly referred to as the “read-only web.” Web1 was characterized by static websites that displayed information. There was little to no user interaction or user-generated content.
- Web2- starting in the 90s, the “read-write web” is characterized by user-generated content and improved user interfaces. This led to the creation of blogs and social media platforms, as well as sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. Web2 placed more emphasis on user experience and interoperability between different applications and websites, giving us the vast network of connected websites and resources that we are familiar with today.
- Web3- the next iteration of the web being ushered in as we speak, which leverages blockchain technology, open-source applications, and the decentralization of data and information. Web3 aims to remove control of the web from monopolistic tech companies, and return ownership of data and content to its users. Also referred to as the “read-write-trust web.”
- Wei- the smallest denomination of ether, named after cypherpunk and cryptocurrency pioneer, Wei Dai. 10^18 gwei = 1 ether.
- YOLO (You Only Live Once)- investing too much money into a single asset; making a generally risky bet.
- 51% Attack- an attack in which a single entity or organization gains control of over half of the nodes or mining power on a network. This then allows the entity to disrupt the network by excluding certain transactions, double spending cryptocurrency, and performing other malicious acts.