What does HODL mean in crypto?

Confused? We've got you. HODL is a stocks and shares concept... but it's also a way of life (and a joke).

What is #HODL?

OK, let’s start at the beginning. Unlike most etymology, we can trace this directly to the source. He’s called Mike and what he did is invent and bring the word #HODL into existence. You’ll find it prominently used in crypto circles, and if you’ve seen a thread or followed all that blockchain business, you’ve probably read that four-letter word: HODL. Pronounced, you’d imagine, like the surname of ex-Tottenham player Glenn Hoddle. Given the very online nature, it’s hard to confirm whether that’s true, but I’ve not heard it pronounced any other way.

So what does HODL mean?

While it’s used by some people as an acronym for Hold On (For) Dear Life, it actually just means hold – don’t buy more for now, but don’t sell what you have. Generally, the term is only really used in the crypto world, where prices are super flaky and can drastically change at any point. The ethos and mantra, however, could be applied to any digital currency or even traditional stocks and shares. It’s just more commonly said when it comes to cryptocurrencies, less so tokens. If someone on Wall Street told a client to HODL, they might get looked at weirdly, for example.

Why do they say HODL not hold?!

Good question. It all began on 18th December 2013 when that Mike we spoke earlier about decided to start a thread on the forum bit​cointalk​.org (still very much used today) about why he was going to hold his bitcoin despite the coin crashing. It was a typo, and the thread title became: I AM HODLING. From there, at least every other comment was: HODL!, HODLING hard!, Keep HODLING… you get the gist. It stuck like a nickname in the pub. So that’s why the cryptocurrency community began saying HODL, and still do to this day. In fact, the word is widely used and thousands of posts with the word are found everywhere online daily.

Ok, so why do people HODL?

Just like financial assets, you’ll hold stocks as a long term solution, whether you’re expecting the value to go up and up and up or because you can’t be bothered with checking everything day-to-day and trust that in the long term it’ll rise steadily. In the short term, if you’re advised to hold, it suggests just hanging tight as all is probably good, so there’s no reason to sell up but it’s also not worth buying loads more just in case things go tits up. The same applies to crypto. If you see the value dipping or surging before your eyes, it can be easy to think that you need to buy more or sell the fucking lot, but you can just breathe…and hold…and hope it all steadies out in your favour. That’s a hold. Though, according to the internet, it can also be a #HODL.

Given how volatile swings are when it comes to cryptocoins, the need to make a decision on HODLING occurs more frequently than with traditional stocks. This is because HODLING is a middle ground where you’re assuming things will work out, instead of putting more money into assets, or selling assets when part of you thinks they could be worth much more tomorrow.

So there we have it. An epilogue though, if you want: the original poster is still in the crypto game and his Twitter bio about being the OG creator of the #HODL meme 🥃” is loud and proud about his chapter in crypto history. Pushing his contribution to blockchain vocabulary further, this year he has auctioned his original post as an NFT via Foundation.app – it was last sold to “@partner” for one ether, which is currently worth around £2,255, according to Coinbase. Not a bad legacy for a typo.

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