As a new generation of day traders comes into its own, they’re bringing their own nicknames, jargon, and terminology.
For the general public, this new language for discussing the markets was largely unknown until January 2021, when a group of retail investors led a rally in the heavily shorted stock of video game retailer GameStop. This caused billion-dollar losses for prominent hedge funds and made headlines.
The GameStop rally was led by users on the subreddit message board r/wallstreetbets (WSB). The rally reached its peak on January 28, when GameStop stock topped $500 per share, a price nearly 30 times higher than its value at the beginning of the month.
WSB is an open forum, and many of the phrases and jargon used by users are obscene, insulting, or otherwise inappropriate. But others are richly laden with the unique investing perspective of this new generation of day traders, who are trying to figure out the markets together. Here are a few of the phrases you may hear or see on WSB and other online forums, and what they mean.
Popular Day Trading Lingo in 2021
This term is short for chicken tenders, which is a way of saying gains or profits or money. The phrase originated with self-deprecating jokes by 4Chan users making fun of themselves as living with their mothers, who rewarded them with chicken tenders, or tendies.
This is a playful way of saying stocks, or of referring more broadly to the world of finance. The obvious misspelling is a way of making fun of the market, and to mock people who lose money in the market. It became a popular meme—of a character called Meme Man in front of a blue board full of numbers—used as a quick reaction to someone who made poor investing or financial decisions. On WSB, it also came to refer to stocks heavily traded by WSB users, such as GameStop, NOKIA, Blackberry, and AMC.
This is an investor who holds onto their investments despite short-term losses and potential risks. The diamond refers to both the strength of their hands in holding on to an investment, as well as the perceived value of staying with their investments. It became common on WSB, where it was depicted with a combination of a diamond emoji and a hands emoji.
This is the opposite of diamond hands. It refers to an investor who sells out of an investment too soon in response to the pressure of high financial risks. In another age, they would have been called panic sellers. On WSB, the term has negative connotations, and is often shown with the toilet paper emoji.
When used in the context of day trading on WSB, the popular acronym for the phrase “you only live once” is usually used in reference to a stock a user has taken a substantial and possibly risky position in.
Bagholder or Bag Holder
This is a term for someone who has been left “holding the bag.” They’re someone who buys a stock at the top of a speculative runup, and is stuck with it when the stock peaks and rolls back.
To the Moon
This term is often accompanied by a rocket emoji. Especially on WSB, it’s a way of expressing the belief that a given stock will rise significantly.
This is similar to the term “ugh,” and people use it as an exclamation when they’ve experienced a major loss. It came from a popular video of one investor-slash- Redditor who made the sound when they lost $45,000 in two minutes of trading.
This is shorthand for Jerome Hayden “Jay” Powell, the current Federal Reserve Chair, also popular on WSB and other boards as the character on the meme “Money Printer Go Brrr.” Both refer to Federal Reserve injections of capital in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as “quantitative easing” policies.
Position or Ban
This is a demand made by users on WSB to check the veracity of another user’s investment suggestions. It means that a user has to deliver a screenshot of their brokerage account to prove the gain or loss that the user is referencing. It’s a way of eliminating posters who are trying to manipulate the board. Users who can’t or won’t show the investments, and the gain or loss, can face a ban from the community.
This is the social media handle of Keith Gill, the Massachusetts-based financial adviser who’s widely credited with driving the GameStop stock rally with his Reddit posts and YouTube video streams.
Apes Together Strong
This refers to the idea that retail investors, working together, can shape the markets. It is sometimes represented, in extreme shorthand, by a gorilla emoji. And the phrase comes from an earlier meme, which references the movie Rise of Planet of the Apes, in which downtrodden apes take over the world. In the analogy, the apes are retail investors. And the idea is that when they band together to invest in heavily-shorted stocks like GameStop, they can outlast the investors shorting those stocks, and make a lot of money at the expense of professional traders, such as hedge funds.
Hold the Line
This is an exhortation to fellow investors on WSB. It is based on an old infantry battle cry. But in the context of day traders, it’s used to inspire fellow board members not to sell out of stocks that the forum believes in, but which have started to drop in value.
This refers to the term “Due Diligence,” and is used to indicate a deeply researched or highly technical post.
This is an abbreviation of the phrase “Hold On For Dear Life.” It’s used in two ways. Some investors use it to show that they don’t plan to sell their holdings. And it’s also used as a recommendation for investors not to sell out of their position—to maintain their investment, even if the value is dropping dramatically. HODL (which is also used in crypto circles) is often used by investors who are facing short-term losses, but not selling.
This is short for “Keep Yourself Safe,” and it is a rare bearish statement on WSB and other boards. It’s a way of advising investors to sell out of a given stock.
Many retail traders have found a new home on message boards—and created a new language in the process. Some of the phrases are based on pop culture and memes, others are appropriated from terms used for decades. No matter the origins, it’s clear that the investors using these phrases are evolving the way retail investors talk about investing online and maybe IRL as well.
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