Staying up-to-date on the latest internet slang is never an easy task. It changes every day, seemingly entirely at random. At times, the terms that social media comes upon with may not even seem like English — such as “HODL.”
This is a recent term that already has a lot of history behind it. The term originated from cryptocurrency traders but evolved to cover a wide umbrella. It can be used in reference to social movements, politics, and average stocks.
Keep reading below to learn more about HODL and the strange history behind it.
HODL, HODL, HODL!!
If you’ve spent any amount of time on Reddit or Twitter, then you’ve come across the term — “HODL!” HODL is widely used cryptocurrency slang that represents the word “HOLD” with the last two letters swapped.
It emerged as an iconic misspelling of the word “HOLD”.
The term HODL first appeared in 2013 in a form called “BitcoinTalk” when a decision by the Chinese government caused the price of Bitcoin to plummet overnight. A drunk participant who had been tipping back some whiskey wrote a now infamous post titled, “I AM HODLING”. The post was a rant about his poor luck with timing the market and his desire to hold his Bitcoin position for the long-term.
You can see the rant, which has been viewed nearly 800K time, here:
Early cryptocurrency investors, like “GameKyuubi” who wrote that historic post, faced a unique set of challenges. They were debating whether to hold onto their coins, or to sell them for fiat currency (that is, dollars and cents). Back then, the dream was to make Bitcoin a store of value and a currency that people would freely exchange.
That could only be achieved if those early investors held onto their coins. They were pursuing a dream, and forums filled with people demanding others to hold onto their coins. In 2013, Bitcoins cost less than $20 and a $10 increase would have been insane profits. Today, the value of a single Bitcoin has exploded into tens of thousands of dollars, giving the term more impact.
At the time of this writing, a single Bitcoin sells for an astounding $48K and Bitcoins have traded as high as $69K in recent months.
HODL: Hold on For Dear Life
The misspelling resonated with people, and they rallied around it. Later, the term would evolve into an acronym for “Hold On for Dear Life.” That new meaning to the term reflected more than just the call for people to hold onto their investments; it became a call for people to achieve their crypto dreams.
In its most basic sense, “HODL” is a call for people to hold onto their investments. No matter what the temptation is or their financial situation, it’s a call for people not to sell. But HODL is also a call to think beyond mere profit and envision a future where cryptocurrencies are mainstream and governments can’t debase the money supply by indefinitely printing money.
Frighteningly, 40% of US dollars in existence were printed in the last 12 months, so you can why using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin (that has a fixed supply of only 21 million) provides a compelling alternative to fiat (government) currencies.
Those early investors and many investors share the same dream of using decentralized currency. But the only way they can achieve it is by “HODLING.” To create a better future, people need to hold onto their coins.
Today, the Bitcoin community has proudly embraced the term HODL, printing it on shirts and featuring it in memes. It’s a promise of rewards for sticking with the group, catalyzed on social media.
What Does HODL Mean? A Lot.
It’s easy to think that HODL is just a funny meme popularized on cryptocurrency forums. In reality, the term has evolved to mean so much more than just holding onto coins.
Depending on the context it’s used in, HODL can be a kind of ‘call to arms’ as part of a social movement. In other contexts, it can be a term of comradery, telling others to hold together and stand strong. Most commonly, it does just mean to hold onto your investments.
It is also anchored in a tried and true investment strategy — simply buying and holding onto stocks. It’s the most simple kind of investment strategy where you try to buy stocks for a low price and only sell them when you want profit.
This is different from most other speculation strategies that dominate cryptocurrency circles now. Companies investing in cryptocurrency usually follow momentum investing strategies. Meanwhile, average investors tend to simply want to hold onto their coins for as long as possible.
HODL Is a Call to Arms in Some Circles
The term was further popularized as part of the controversies surrounding GameStop stock and retail trading. In March 2021, small-scale investors realized they could disrupt the stock market just by organizing themselves against a large firm.
After an investment firm decided to bet against GameSop stock, thinking it would fall, retail traders started buying it. As a result, the price of the stock skyrocketed, and the investment firm lost billions of dollars. The end result was stressed Wall Street investors who never thought it was possible for them to lose so much money.
They called on the government to intervene, calling for it to intervene in basic free market dynamics. This upset those small investors, and they started the call that has now gone down in history — HODL! By holding onto GameStop stock instead of selling, they hurt billionaires on Wall Street.
Now, after the controversy has died down, HODL remains a term charged with politics and class-based frustration.
Other Cryptocurrency Terms You Should Know
While HODL is the most popular term used by cryptocurrency investors, there are tons of other strange terms that you’ll see tossed around on forums and social media. Some of the most important ones you should know are listed below:
- FUD: This term stands for ‘fear, uncertainty, doubt.’ It was originated to describe articles that seemed to highlight negative aspects of early cryptocurrency. Users said they were only written to sew fear, causing people to sell coins and thus dropping their value.
- Mooning: If you’ve ever been on a Bitcoin forum or forums for adjacent coins, you’ve heard one common phrase. “We’re going to the moon!” Mooning is a term that describes sudden and quick growth in value for a coin.
Investing is already complicated without the new terms and lingo most new investors need to learn. But by learning these terms, you can become a part of a thriving and invested community. Plus, some of them may just make you laugh.
The Spirit of HODLing
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and hype surrounding HODLing. Because of it, many people believe that if they just follow the crowd and hold onto their coins, they will see profits. But the reality is far more complicated than that.
All cryptocurrency is inherently risky, so you should take your personal risk tolerance into account when considering crypto assets as part of your portfolio.