The Crypto Term “Hodl”

Daniel Shapiro is currently pursuing his masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.  He dedicates much of his free time to researching and investing in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology (or ‘decentralized ledger technology’).  As a result of recent profit yields, the market for these technologies has grown exponentially and begun to attract investors from around the world.  Online forums and communities are emerging in tandem with the technologies themselves.  Reddit, an online social news aggregation, is one of the most popular websites among crypto enthusiasts.  There, they exchange information about blockchain technology and offer advice to other investors.  Daniel frequents these websites and has adopted the “language” of crypto.  In the excerpt below, he describes the origins of one specific term, “hodl,” and then explains how it is used across various forums.


Daniel: “So, on the Reddit crypto forums, there’s a notorious post where someone was telling everyone to ‘hold,’ as in ‘don’t sell your bit-coins, or your alt-coins’ but he misspelled ‘hold’ as ‘h-o-d-l,’ or ‘hodl.’  So now, in all crypto forums and twitter and in any crypto blogs, space, whatever — people say ‘hodl’ instead of ‘hold.’  And it’s a term to say, when the price is going bad, ‘hodl’ and don’t sell, because if you’re selling away at a low price when you SHOULD be holding and selling at a high price.”

Isabella: “And what is cryptocurrency?”

Daniel: “Crypto is a buzzword name given to decentralized ledger technologies… which are, effectively, networks of computers which operate as a single server, so you don’t need a third-party server to host different networks, which are centralized and controlled by a single party, and require advertising to pay for their servers.”

Isabella: “And why do crypto forums exist?”

Daniel: “Well, these forums exist to… spread news about many of the different cryptocurrencies… such as, when they [the creators and proprietors of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies] release specific products or make specific partnerships.  They’re mainly for distributing information… also to have discussions about the coin.  But realistically, probably about half of these pages are just ‘meme’ pages.”

The original author of the term ‘hodl’ was ridiculed on account of his spelling error. As such, ‘hodl’ has satirical undertones and is often used in a joking manner. But as Daniel notes in the transcription above, ‘hodl’ is also used during actual trading deliberations, wherein the goal is to dissuade someone from selling their shares at a low price. ‘Hodl’ serves as an example of folk speech because it is unique to the crypto community and serves a specific purpose amongst its members — one’s knowledge and use of the term can corroborate their belonging to the community.