Erik Weijers, a year ago

The meaning of HODL

Hodl means to hold and not sell your Bitcoin. It's a semi-intentional mispronunciation of the English word hold, in a December 2013 post on the Bitcoin Talk forum. Over the years, it has become a rallying cry of anyone who believes in the long term of Bitcoin (or another crypto currency) while watching the price go down - or rise fast.

The attitude of steeled hodlers is to not let price movements get to you and to just stay where you are. Also because it is impossible to time the market and sell exactly at the top and buy at the bottom. No doubt there are traders who can do this, as acknowledged by GameKyuubi, the inventor of the term hodl. But he is not one of that select group. 'It's because I'm a bad trader and I KNOW I'M A BAD TRADER.' But: even when the price falls, you only lose money if you stop hodling: 'In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell.'

Hodl as a battle cry and meme

Already within an hour after the post, one of the reactions envisions a future for the new verb:

LOOOOL !!! I swear you just started a movement! ( the hodlers are here! ).

A few hours after the post, the first meme appears.

December 2013 is a period of considerable price movement. At the beginning of that month, Bitcoin peaks above $1100. On the day of the hodl post, Bitcoin briefly drops below $400. In the years that follow - with one sharp price movement after another - HODL becomes the acronym for Hold On for Dear Life. December 18 is declared official HODL Day: it is of course the day of the post on Bitcoin Talk.

Hodl as an investment strategy

All jokes and memes aside, the hodl philosophy has proven to be a simple but excellent investment strategy. For although Bitcoin has experienced extreme price swings, simply not selling would have made many an early investor rich.

Of course, past returns are no guarantee for the future. But if your investment horizon is several years, then it's probably not a bad idea to just hodl some of your crypto portfolio. Set and forget. Your own emotions are sometimes your worst enemy - and that may also explain the popularity of the post and hodl battle cry. Anyone who has been in the crypto markets for more than a few months has experienced looking at the prices with a sunken feeling. A moment in which some encouragement is much needed. HODL!

Who was the writer of the hodl post?

GameKyuubi, whose real name is Mike, typed the post while on whiskey and clearly reacting emotionally to the price drop. Coindesk tracked him down in 2019 and interviewed him.

Some other crypto jargon

Hodl is without a doubt the most widely used crypto jargon. But there are more jargons.

  • FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. The fear of missing out on profits can lead to jumping into an investment without thinking carefully.
  • BT(F)D: Buy The Dip. Buy after or during a price drop.
  • No coiner: someone who does not (yet) own any crypto.
  • FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Market participants may have an interest in spreading negative information, hoping for a price drop.
  • Bag holder: Someone who has invested in a coin and sees the price plummet to (almost) zero.
  • Hopium: (false) hope for a rise in price.
  • Flippening: the moment the total market value of Ethereum surpasses that of Bitcoin. Can also be used for other coins.
  • Rekt: alternative spelling of 'wrecked'. Someone who has lost a lot of money in crypto, for example liquidated in leveraged trading.
  • Shill: the hypey promotion of one’s own coin.
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