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Deconstructing trading slang

Have you ever bought an odd lot of cable after a dead cat bounce? Do you know the difference between a narwhal and a unicorn?

Bull and bear
Source: Bloomberg

The money business possibly uses more acronyms and jargon than any other industry – just take a look at our glossary to get a sense of the sheer volume of formal terms. But slang is also prevalent, allowing traders to quickly – and often humorously – convey meaning in an environment where a winning trade can turn into a heavy loss in the blink of an eye.

While it may be helpful for experienced traders and analysts, trading slang can be a difficult second language for hobbyists or newbies to pick up. So what are some of the key slang terms you need to know? 

Trading slang A—Z

All the boats rise
The tendency for stocks to rise together, sometimes due to over-optimism. 
Altcoin
A token of any cryptocurrency that is not bitcoin.
Aussie
The Australian dollar (AUD).
Babysitting
When a trader holds onto a trade, despite losses, in the hope the market will turn around so they can break even or make a profit. 
Bagholder
A trader who holds onto a losing trade for so long, it becomes worthless.
Barnie
USD/RUB. The pair gets its nickname from Barney Rubble (the Flintstones), whose surname looks a lot like ruble. See also Betty. 

Beans

 

Used by commodities traders to refer to soybeans.

 

Bear
A trader who believes a market’s price will fall and/or has taken out a short position. See also bull and permabear.
Bear Market
A market in which prices fall for a sustained period of time, backed by widespread pessimism.
Beast
GBP/JPY. Called the beast because it has historically been volatile. Its other names include dragon, geppy, gopher and widow maker.
Betty
EUR/RUB. Named after Betty Rubble (the Flintstones), drawing comparison between her surname Rubble and ruble. See also Barney.
Bill and Ben
Cockney rhyming slang for the Japanese yen (JPY).
Black gold
Oil. Alludes to its colour and the properties it shares with gold, including scarcity and historic high prices. 
Bottom fishing
Buying or going long on securities after their prices have fallen considerably, expecting they will rise in time. See also vulture.
Buck
The US dollar (USD). Traces its origins to a time when Native Americans would trade buck skins (deer skins) for dollars.
Bull
A trader who believes a market’s price will rise and/or has taken a long position. See also bear and permabull.
Bull market
A market in which prices rise for a sustained period of time, backed by widespread optimism.
Bullion
Gold or, more formally, gold bars (or those of other precious metals). Comes from Louis XIII’s finance minister, Claude de Bullion.

Cable
GBP/USD. So called because of the transatlantic telegraph cables that were used to transmit currency prices between London and New York in the 19th century. 
Choppy
High volatility within a narrow range. 
Chunnel
GBP/EUR. Named after the channel tunnel that connects the UK with mainland Europe. 
Crunching
When a market’s price is falling rapidly and goes beyond a presumed support level.
Dark pools
Liquidity that exists between institutions on private exchanges – those not available to the public.
Dead cat bounce
The tendency for markets to rebound quickly after a substantial drop, perhaps due to bottom fishing.
Dragon
Another name for GBP/JPY, based again on the pair’s historic volatility. Other names include beast, geppy and widow maker.
Dragon bonds
Asian bonds denominated in US dollars. 
Euppy
EUR/JPY. Pronounced ‘yuppy’.
Fear index
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), which measures expectations for volatility on the S&P 500 over the next 30 days.
Fiber
The euro (EUR). The origins of this name are unknown but it may refer to the durable cotton fiber that gives the euro its distinctive feel.
Fill or kill
An order which must be executed immediately at a particular price, or killed (cancelled) if the price moves.
Flight to quality
When investors look to move to investments they perceive to be safe – for example bonds, gold, or blue-chip stocks – in times of economic uncertainty.
Footsie

The FTSE 100 index.

Fud
Fear, uncertainty, doubt.

Gas
The cryptocurrency token ether, which is sometimes described as the ‘gas’ of the Ethereum network because small quantities are ‘burnt’ (destroyed) when transactions are processed. 
Greenback
The US dollar (USD). This nickname stems from the notes issued during the American civil war, which had a green underside.
Geppy/guppy
Another alternative for GBP/JPY. Other names include beast, dragon, gopher and widow maker.
Gopher
GBP/JPY or USD/JPY. Other names for GBP/JPY include beast, dragon, geppy and widow maker.

Hodl
Holding cryptocurrency despite massive losses or gains, in the hope it will regain its value or continue to increase. The term traces its origin to a 2013 post on the bitcoin talk forum, in which a user accidently mixed up the last two letters of ‘hold’.
Jigged out
When a market turns against a general trend, forcing the trader to close their position.
Kiwi

The New Zealand dollar (NZD), because the national symbol of New Zealand is the kiwi bird.

Loonie
A Canadian dollar (CAD). So called because Canadian dollar coins feature an image of a loon bird. Also sometimes used to refer to the USD/CAD pair. 
Matie
AUD/USD. Presumably referencing the stereotype that Australians often call their friends ‘mate’.
Mine/yours
Traders will sometimes say ‘mine’ to indicate they want to buy (go long), and ‘yours’ to indicate they want to sell (go short).
Mining
The computationally-intense process by which new information is verified and added to the blockchain, often rewarded with cryptocurrency tokens.
Narwhal
A Canadian unicorn.
Ninja
A name for USD/JPY. 
Nokkie
The Norwegian krone (NOK).
Odd lot
A trade where the position size is less than the standard lot.
Old lady
The Bank of England (BoE). The BoE is sometimes called 'the old lady of Threadneedle Street', where it has been based since 1734. 
Ozzie
An alternative spelling of aussie. 
Permabear
A trader with a long-term negative view of a market. See also bear and permabull.
Permabull
A trader with a long-term positive view of a market. See also bull and permabear.
Prince Charles
A lot worth twelve contracts. Derived from ‘one doz’ (meaning ‘dozen’), which sounds like ‘one does’, a phrase sometimes uttered by the Prince of Wales. 
Pump and dump
The illegal practice of encouraging investors to buy stock, then selling once the price has risen (to the investors’ detriment).
Rubber band effect
Another term for a dead cat bounce.

Satoshi (Sat)
The smallest divisible unit of a bitcoin, equivalent to 0.00000001 BTC. Named after Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the mysterious person or group that originally created bitcoin.
Scalper
A high-volume trader that looks for small, quick-wins. 
Single currency
The euro (EUR). 
Shill
A con-artist who gives a misleading endorsement to a market or asset in the hopes its price will rise (to their benefit). 
Short squeeze
A situation where those holding short positions on a market are forced to close their trades as its price increases rapidly.
Squiggly lines

The chart analysis tools and technical indicators used by some traders.

Stokkie/Stocky
The Swedish krona (SEK). Named after the nation’s capital: Stockholm.
Swissy
The Swiss franc (CHF).
Tanking
When a market falls suddenly.
Tenbagger
An investment that rises to 10 times its purchase price (or has the potential to do so). 
Texas tea
Another name for oil, one that references its abundance in Texas.
The funds
USD/CAD. Origins unknown.

Token

A unit of cryptocurrency (e.g. bitcoin or ether). Tokens can actually represent any potential use of blockchain technology. This could be a digital right (e.g. intellectual property), share, means of accounting, or other form of reward.

Unicorn

A start-up company that has received a valuation of $1 billion or more. The name references the fact that successful startups, like unicorns, are exceptionally rare. See also narwhal.

Vulture
A trader that looks for struggling assets, hoping to profit from major turnarounds. See also bottom fishing.
Whale
A trader or institution with a large position in a market. Sometimes whales are so big they can influence market pricing. 
Widow maker
Another name for GBP/JPY. Other names include beast, dragon, geppy and gopher.
Zone of resistance
The area between current support and resistance levels in which the price typically begins to resist further price rises, and may begin to fall.

 

The Bank of England (BoE). The BoE is sometimes called the old lady of Threadneedle Street, because it has been at this address for over 300 years. 

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