Hodl is a meme that seems to define the Bitcoin community. The term is used by cryptocurrency enthusiasts to encourage cryptocurrency traders to resist the urge to sell in response to market fluctuations. But what is the story of hodl? We trace the origins of one of Bitcoin's most enduring memes.
Hodl is an intentional misspelling of 'hold' and originates from a 2013 forum post on Bitcointalk. On December 18th, 2013, user 'GameKyuubi' submitted a post titled "I AM HODLING," arguing in favour of holding his bitcoins during a crash.
Hilariously the original poster admitted he had had some whiskey whilst writing the post and that he had been aware of his initial spelling mistake but, on his second attempt at spelling' holding', he had misspelt it again.
The original post was mocked for its misspelling, and the term was eventually taken up affectionately to signal enthusiasm for the crypto community.
Since 2013, numerous Reddit posts and articles have been dedicated to explaining what hodl means, serving many a gateway to the crypto world. The term has morphed into a battle cry for crypto day traders determined not to sell in bear markets and for investors who believe in crypto long term.
Hodl has also received its own acronym - 'Hold On for Dear Life' - and, like with all great memes has different layers to its meaning.
Firstly the term tends to catch people's attention for being a spelling mistake. This can spark engagement from the uninitiated and introduce them to the crypto world by learning the story of how hodl came to be.
What's funny is that the origins of the term were actually that of a spelling mistake. In the original post, GameKyuubi admitted he was a 'bad day trader' who was committed to his position out of enthusiasm rather than expertise.
The stupidity (and hilarity) of hodl represented a comradery amongst early crypto enthusiasts. Back then the crypto space was very much populated - and arguably still is - by outsiders looking for a way to play the finance game on their own terms.
Hodl became a term that signalled this outsider status to the crypto community. Users of the term weren't traditional investors trying to muscle in but other outsiders that believed in cryptocurrencies' ability to deliver financial services to all.
As the world of crypto has grown, the term has been used to express belief in much more than just bitcoin. From altcoins to tokens to the crypto community as a whole, hodl is a term used to express belief; belief in the future growth of the crypto industry and community.
Due to the industry's nature - it's young and moves incredibly fast - hodl also manages to express the 'fly by the seat of your pants' aspect of crypto. There is so much innovation and fluctuation in the industry that it can be hard to keep up and anyone that tells you that they know everything there is to know about crypto to is lying.
The space is simply too dynamic, and there are simply too many new things being created and new types of transactions occurring that to know it all would be impossible.
Being a part of the creation of this new industry can feel like a rollercoaster. The cry of hodl represents the joy of being on that rollercoaster and not wanting to get off despite it, at times, being scary and unknown. There's a reason the acronym is Hold On for Dear Life.
Hodling is used to inspire confidence in a market that can tend to breed anxiety. Short term crypto day trading is, of course, a highly risky activity whether conducted in the fiat or crypto markets. Cryptocurrencies can be especially volatile, so hodl originated to defy this volatility and the anxiety it caused.
However, hodl has come to be about much more than confidence in day trading positions. The term has grown to align with belief in the longevity of the crypto industry as well. Its silliness inspires camaraderie, and the more people use it, the more belief it inspires.
One only has to look at the recent Gamestop and Robinhood trading events to understand that the outsider vs insider narrative is becoming more and more relevant. Hodl is a statement of defiance for outsiders looking to play a fairer finance game through crypto.
So the next time you are worried about a dip in BTC, maybe you think of hodl. And perhaps you think of how for most crypto enthusiasts, the industry isn't a way to make a quick buck but a new type of financial system that can provide fair access to all. And that Hodling is about playing for the long term.