What Does Bullish and Bearish Mean in Investing and Crypto?

By Paulina Likos · March 08, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Does Bullish and Bearish Mean in Investing and Crypto?

Markets are often described as being either bullish vs. bearish. These are common terms used to refer to how a market is performing over a short or longer period of time. Investors can also be bullish or bearish on a specific stock, a sector, an asset class such as cryptocurrency, or on the economy in general.

Read on to learn more about the definitions of bearish vs. bullish, where the terms bullish and bearish come from, and the bullish and bearish meaning for investors in stocks, cryptocurrency, or other markets.

What Does Bullish Mean?

Bullish refers to stock market sentiment that the direction of the overall market will go up. A market that is increasing in value over a long period of time is said to be in a bull market. A bullish trend means that there may be an upward trend in prices for an asset.

For investors, being bullish means they feel positive about a stock, index, or the overall stock market. For example, if an investor says she is bullish on Apple (AAPL) stock, the investor expects the market value of AAPL stock to increase in the long-term. That bullishness may even compel the investor to buy more shares of the company.

A bullish market is one where prices go up by 20% after a sustained 20% decline.

What Does Bearish Mean?

Bearish refers to a sentiment that the direction of securities or the overall market will move down in price. An investor characterized as a bear believes the stock market will decrease in value, even if current prices are going up. An investor investing in a bearish market may even sell shares of their portfolio if they believe the market will turn negative.

A bear market is one that has fallen 20% from recent highs and remains below that threshold for at least two months. Since investors are bearish during this period, there may be lower trading activity.

Where Do the Terms Bullish and Bearish Come From?

While there are several theories as to the origins of bullish vs. bearish. The consensus believes the difference between bullish and bearish reflects the way each animal responds when they attack. When a bull goes into attack mode, it races at its target with confidence. In a bull market, investors are confident that stock prices will rise and correspondingly, the value of the market will trend upward.

When bears attack, they swipe their paws in a downward motion and often in fear. That is why in a bear market, prices drop. When investors are bearish, they do not have confidence in stocks and usually end up selling off some of their investments.

Bullish vs Bearish in Cryptocurrency

The terms bullish and bearish have historically been used in the context of the stock market. But these terms can apply to any market, including the cryptocurrency market. The definitions of bullish and bearish are largely similar in the context of trading crypto.

When cryptocurrencies are rallying, this means crypto is in a bull market. During this period, there is strong demand and, in some cases, limited supply. Bullish crypto traders may talk about prices going “to the moon,” which refers to periods when prices might surge or suddenly spike (these price moves can also happen in times of extreme volatility).

A bearish trend in the crypto market reflects falling prices accompanied by selling. But sometimes, crypto traders may consider a bear market a great time to add to their crypto portfolio. These traders may be hoping to “HODL,” which stands for “hold on for dear life,” and refers to the goal of investors riding out volatility.

Recommended: Crypto 101: Learn the Basics of Cryptocurrency

Pump-and-Dump in Crypto

Sometimes bullish or bearish movements in cryptocurrency reflect more than market sentiment. A “pump and dump” scheme in the crypto market refers to a group of market participants buying up large amounts of a cheap cryptocurrency to artificially increase its price.

They then relay positive messages about the asset to get other investors to buy in. Once prices soar, they sell off their assets and pocket the profits while others lose value.

How Bullish Markets Can Impact Investors

In a bull market, demand is greater than supply. There are many investors who want to buy stocks while only a few are willing to sell. Bullish traders tend to have long positions in stocks or other assets.

How Bearish Markets Can Impact Investors

In a bear market, supply is greater than demand — and investors look to offload their shares when there is not a lot of demand for market participants to buy. As a result, share prices decrease. A bear market is challenging for investors because stock prices keep falling, and that means more losses in an investment portfolio.

Your first instinct may be to sell in a bear market, but to increase chances of securing a profit in the long-term, it may make more sense to remain invested. Bear markets do not last forever.

Still, some investors prefer to adjust their investments in a bear market, turning to defensive stocks like consumer staples, healthcare, or utilities. They also may consider going into safer investments like bonds that offer stable fixed-income.

Bear markets can also present a good buying opportunity for investors who use dollar-cost averaging. This involves investing a fixed amount of money consistently. This way, investors can purchase stocks at a more affordable price. Learn more about

Tips on Withstanding Bullish vs Bearish Markets

One of the best investing strategies during a bull or bear market is diversification. Diversifying your investment portfolio with different securities in a variety of different industries — along with various asset classes — will protect a portfolio by minimizing losses and maximizing gains over the long-term. Diversification means buying shares of companies in different sectors and companies of different sizes, rather than just investing in a select few of stocks.

Stock Market

Investors who are not sure how to pick individual stocks can purchase an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or index fund, which are pre-selected baskets of securities all in one investment vehicle. For example, investors who own a fund that follows the S&P 500 will see their investments perform in line with that index.

In an ETF, investors own hundreds of companies, which means they don’t need to painstakingly choose one or two companies, rather, they own the entire index. This is a great strategy to ensure portfolio growth in the long-term.


Because cryptocurrency is a relatively new asset class that has only been around for about 12 years, it can be difficult to know when a bull or bear period is approaching and how long it may last. One of the main characteristics of cryptocurrencies is their volatility. Assets with more volatility are riskier for investors. A crypto bear market or bull market can last for a period of hours, days, weeks, or months.

Crypto investors can also diversify by purchasing different types of cryptocurrencies, and keeping their overall crypto assets to a certain percentage of their wider portfolio.

The Takeaway

A market doesn’t necessarily have to be either bearish or bullish. It can actually be neither. The stock market can be in a state that is flat. This may mean there are normal market fluctuations leading to either small gains or small losses. Even if markets experience a sharp decline or rise in the short-term, this still cannot be defined as bearish or bullish because bull and bear markets are maintained over a period of time.

Whether you believe we’re in a bullish or a bearish market, a good way to get started investing is by opening an online brokerage account on the SoFi Invest® investment platform. With SoFi Invest, users can easily buy and sell stocks and exchange-traded funds directly from their phone.


Does being bearish mean that you want to sell your crypto or other assets?

A bearish market period means investors think an asset’s price is headed downward. In some cases, people are not even aware of a bear market until it’s over because it’s difficult to predict the direction of the markets. Investors who are invested for the long run do not pay attention to the peaks and troughs of the market and take a dollar-cost averaging approach by investing consistently over time in both bear and bull markets.

What do bullish and bearish mean in crypto?

A bullish market in crypto means the value of the cryptocurrency will increase, while a bearish market means the asset will go in the opposite direction. Bearish investors are pessimistic that the market will decline — but there is so much momentum in the crypto market that when there is a bearish period, it is often seen as a buying opportunity to get more crypto.

How can you tell if a market is bearish or bullish?

Predicting and timing the markets is a challenging task. However, if stock prices have fallen by more than 20% from their recent peaks, and remained there for more than two months, that’s typically considered a bear market. A sustained increase in prices is a bull market.

Photo credit: iStock/NoSystem images

SoFi Invest®
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender