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Learn about HODL and what it means at Punt Casino.

What Does HODL Mean? Looking Back at Bitcoin’s Most Famous Term

December 18, 2022

What Does HODL Mean? Looking Back at Bitcoin’s Most Famous Term

December 18, 2022

Blog » Crypto guides » What Does HODL Mean? Looking Back at Bitcoin’s Most Famous Term

What Is HODL? The History of HODL and Meaning Explained

What is HODL? Before we dig into that, there is 1 thing you should know. Memes and slang words play a big part in communication between members of the crypto community. It’s almost as if knowing the lingo makes you part of the club, and to some extent, it’s true (as juvenile and totally ridiculous as it may sound). 

But hey, if you want to join the club, there’s enough room for all. And getting to know the lingo around Bitcoin and other cryptos can be one of the most entertaining, and in the case of today’s article, interesting stages of your indoctrination into the world of crypto. And with that, welcome to the club.

So, what is “HODL”, or “Hodling” all about?

The meme “HODL” is something that you’ll without a doubt come across while dabbling in the world of cryptos. It has become rather synonymous with the crypto space and is an entreaty to hold your bitcoin through bear markets with the expectation that prices will eventually recover.

Just HODL it meme.

In modern times, the phrase ‘diamond hands’ has come to replace it in some areas, mostly with the amateur stock market trading crowd. However, “HODL” is the original call to stand firm. But what is HODL? And where did it come from? Let’s find out about the history of HODL.


Surprise, surprise! HODL is NOT an acronym

Many believe that the term HODL stands for ‘Hold On for Dear Life’. This belief refers to the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency markets. It was perpetuated by TV show host John Oliver, who referenced this explanation in his evisceration of the cryptocurrency space in March 2018. However, the real history of the term is much different, and funnier.

John Oliver on cryptocurrencies.

The history of HODL starts on December 18, 2013 – two weeks after Bitcoin had broken its all-time high of $1,124 that was achieved only four days earlier. Since hitting this figure on December 4, Bitcoin had experienced a 54% decline. This caused many to believe that Bitcoin had topped out and that the bull run was over. It was a prophecy that turned out to be true. 

By December 13, Bitcoin was hovering around $520, with sentiment turning decidedly sour since it was last climbing that level in November. So, what is HODL? Well, at 10:03 AM, BitcoinTalk user, GameKyuubi, who had been a member of the forum since June 2011, wrote and published a now infamous post. This post contained a key misspelling in the title – ‘I AM HODLING’.

The history of HODL stems from this post.

That last line is an absolute classic! The post, a helping of word soup that contained mixed capitalization, typos, invective, accusations, regrets, and the not-so-subtle use of language, was written after GameKyuubi had consumed “some whiskey”, which he also acknowledged was misspelled. This, is how the history of HODL began.

“not part of that group”

GameKyuubi informed readers that he was planning to hold bitcoin rather than try and sell at the right time to maximize profit. The reason? “I’m a bad trader and I KNOW I’M A BAD TRADER.” He went on to explain how some traders knew exactly when to buy and when to sell. He also that they were trading on the emotional reactions of other, less experienced souls.

When referring to these expert traders, GameKyuubi asserted that he was “not part of that group”. This is a realization that comes to many newcomers in the crypto space when the Bitcoin price comes down the other side of the mountain having thought they were geniuses on the way up. He crystallized this point at the end of his rant.

“You only sell in a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob. The people in between hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell.”


A meme is born

If it wasn’t already clear that this would be a post for the ages. One respondent’s simple reply of “HODL!” guaranteed its immortality, with responses such as “WE OL SHAL HODL!” and “Spartans Hodl” coming thick and fast.

Spartans hodling.

One visionary suggested that, “I could see a meme coming from this post with (a) bit of creativity.” He wasn’t wrong. No one needed to ask ‘what is HODL?’ anymore. The notion was immediately clear to all those with any exposure to Bitcoin.

The thread quickly gained popularity. Hundreds of people jumped on board the HODL bandwagon. Although, the message behind it was sorely tested as Bitcoin endured a near 2-year bear market which saw prices plummet as low as $360. 

However, comments from the time support the notion that people were indeed HODLing and waiting for the market to rebound, rather than abandoning the principle. This, of course, proved to be the right play.

The last few posts on the HODL thread were made in July 2016 as Bitcoin’s price approached $700 again. This proved the concept was still holding strong:

“Holding is the only thing that makes sense now. Just think about selling now and the price going to 2k in a couple of years.”

Little could this poster have imagined that Bitcoin would hit ten times that figure in a little over half the time. And that, is the history of HODL.


What is HODL today? A solid message

So what is HODL all about these days? The HODL meme has only grown over time as the space has increased in size, valuation, and the number of participants. For obvious reasons, it is particularly prevalent during bear markets when the temptation to sell after having held a loss is increased for fear of further downside.

Along with the general message to hold Bitcoin for the long term, the actual content of the post, which is often forgotten, is also a great lesson for newcomers. Trading in cryptocurrency markets is something that very few people are cut out for. For the inexperienced, doing so is an easy way to lose your bitcoin. Don’t get “rekt”.

Guide on how not to get rekt on cryptos.

Only those who have experience of trading in other markets, or are trying to learn the ropes and are happy to lose money while they do so, should be involved in multiple acts of buying and selling during a bear market.

The vast majority of people, as GameKyuubi says, should simply HODL and not try to outsmart those that are more efficient traders than they are.


HODL is more than a meme

Today, HODL is more than a meme, and certainly more than just a typo – it is almost a franchise. You can buy HODL t-shirts, hoodies, caps, mugs and more. Leaders in the crypto world frequently use the term in their online discussions, and for some, it has come to embody a way of life rather than just a way of preserving wealth. 

HODL is becoming a symbol for perseverance and hope, for holding on through the hard times and not giving up, as remembered throughout the history of HODL.

Keep calm and HODL on.

HODL is slowly becoming a 21st-century continuation of the stoic philosophy that dates to around the third century BC. Assuming that it continues to do so, it would be quite something if a drunken typo from a Bitcoin bear market survivor acts as the catalyst to an entire philosophical movement.

The history of HODL is something that those outside the crypto space won’t be aware of. Many will assume, as John Oliver did, that it is a thought-out acronym, rather than a near decade-old misspelling. 

Now, however, if you hear anyone trying to make such an outrageous claim, you will be able to proudly explain what HODL stands for – none of that “What is HODL” business anymore – you’re part of the club now.

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Jordan Huxley

Born on a blockchain with “HODL” as a middle name, the crypto-savvy Jordan Huxley guides our readers through the digital world of crypto with insightful guides and informative content, unveiling the power of crypto in his own, unique way. Get the latest updates on blockchain-related tech, advancements, news, and events with Jordan and our team of crypto gambling gurus on the Punt Casino Blog.

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