Hello readers! After continually seeing confusion and misunderstanding around the cryptocurrency world, I have created a basic glossary for many of the basic, yet very important Cryptocurrency and Blockchain terms. I will keep this up to date so feel free to let me know if there are any terms you want defined or think should be added! (Last updated: 5/14/2018)

General Terminology

Satoshi – smallest possible unit of Bitcoin, .00000001 BTC

Wei – smallest possible unit of Ethereum, 1ETH = 1e18 wei

Satoshi Nakamoto – mysterious founder of Bitcoin, identity is still unknown, could be one person or a group of people

Exchange – location on which one can buy and sell Cryptocurrencies like Coinbase or Binance

Fiat – Government issued currency

Coin – Cryptocurrency with its own implemented Blockchain or transactional network that derives its value from the network speed, cost, and reliability

Token – Cryptocurrency built on top of an existing Blockchain or network using smart contracts, most commonly on top of the Ethereum Blockchain

Altcoin – generally refers to any coin or token that is not Bitcoin. Some might argue Ethereum is no longer an Altcoin

Wallet – means of storing your cryptocurrency, can be purely software based or more securely on a hardware wallet

Private Key – unique sequence of characters that allows one to access tokens in a wallet, essentially a password and should be kept secure

Address – the targets or destinations used to send and receive transactions on a Crypto network

Cold Storage – moving all cryptocurrency offline to prevent hacking. Can involve a physical reference to a software wallet, a hardware wallet, or secure USB

Blockchain – technology on which Bitcoin and most Cryptocurrencies are built, a distributed ledger, secured by Cryptography that anyone can read but can’t edit. Decentralized and distributed amongst all users

POS – ‘Proof of Stake’ is a proposed algorithm for which people think Ethereum should operate on in the future. Different from current mining process and allows current Ether owns to vote by locking up their ether.

Sharding – proposed solution for Blockchain scaling problem, allows for users to only have partial copies of the complete blockchain as opposed to the entire chain in its current form. Helps increase overall performance and speed of the network

Fork – split of a Coin’s blockchain resulting in the original Coin and new Coin. Often occurs when there is update to the blockchains code resulting in a different technology and different Coin

Node – any user who holds a copy of the Blockchain and maintains it

DAG – directed acyclic graph, a cryptocurrency graph performing the same functions of a blockchain (recording, confirming, maintaining all transactions in the network), IOTA’s tangle is an example

Miners – users who willingly confirm transactions on the network and mine new blocks for the blockchain, are incentivized by a coin reward for each new block mined and the fees associated with the transactions they confirm

ICO/ITO – Initial Coin Offering, Initial Token Offering

White Paper – Academic paper outlining the details and specifics of a given coin or token and its underlying technology

Smart Contract – code executed on a Blockchain (usually Ethereum) that affects how the money flows (Transaction will only occur if a specific condition is met)

Whale – large volume investors who control enough buying power to potentially manipulate the market

Market Cap – total value of a Cryptocurrency, simply MC = Number of Coins x Price of a Coin

 Once again let me know if there is anything else you have a question about or want added! If you want a quick introduction in how to get started with your first coin or tokens, take a look at the guide I wrote up!

Cheers! Chris