DeFi Glossary


Aave is an open-source and non-custodial lending protocol enabling the creation of money markets.

Users can earn interest on deposits and also borrow assets. Aave provides depositors a Liquidity Token that represents an equivalent derivative deposit in an identical asset.

For example, a user can deposit DAI and receive aDAI, which is a type of USD-based crypto derivative that essentially represents the value of the underlying DAI asset plus the interest gains from allowing the borrowing of one's DAI. That aDAI, could then also be used to implement further strategies to potentially amplify their gains even further.


An audit is either an internal or independent comprehensive review of a concept, system, process, company, or product. A comprehensive audit includes a thoughtful and in-depth look at the structure, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of the thing or process being audited.

Audits may be either informal or formal audits and are meant to be a tool to find and analyze weaknesses, so that issues and problems discovered during an audit may be remediated, mitigated, or corrected.


Annual Percentage Yield, a time-based measurement of the Return On Investment (ROI) on an asset. For example, $100 invested at 2% APY would yield $102 after one year, if there is no compounding of any interest earned on that $100 through the year. Assuming a static APY rate, the Monthly ROI would be 0.16%, in this case.


The trading of a coin or crypto derivative, where the price spread between two different markets or exchanges for the same asset or product is utilized to earn greater profits.

In DeFi, automated yield farming uses algorithmic arbitrage strategies to maximize returns for investors. These arbitrage strategies may include buying, selling, lending, and/or providing liquidity of one or more digital assets, often in the same day.

Automated Market Maker

An Automated Market Maker (AMM) is a decentralized asset trading pool that enables market participants to buy or sell cryptocurrencies. AMMs are non-custodial and permissionless in nature. Most AMMs utilize either a constant product, constant mean, or constant sum market-making formula; however, the most common is a constant product market maker, most notably Uniswap.


From the Balancer whitepaper definition:

A Balancer Pool is an automated market maker with certain key properties that cause it to function as a self-balancing weighted portfolio and price sensor.

Balancer turns the concept of an index fund on its head: instead of paying fees to portfolio managers to rebalance your portfolio, you collect fees from traders, who rebalance your portfolio by following arbitrage opportunities.

Balancer uses a Constant Mean Market Maker (CMMM)that enables non-equal weights for pools (e.g., 80/20 vs. 50/50) and also allows LPs to provide single-sided liquidity.

Bear Market

A period marked by prevailing negative investor sentiment about an asset or class of assets. A bear market can last weeks, months, or years.


An immutable permanent public record or ledger of all transactions since the beginning of a cryptocurrency coin or token.

Bull market

A period marked by prevailing positive investor sentiment about an asset or class of assets. A bull market can last weeks, months, or years, and can sometimes be marked by what economists call a Bubble, where there may be irrational overenthusiasm about an asset or class of assets, leading to explosive price growth followed by an explosive price crash.


Centralized Finance. In terms of cryptocurrency, CeFi is represented by centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, businesses, or organizations with a physical address, and usually with some sort of corporate structure. These CeFi businesses must follow all applicable laws, rules, and regulations in each country, state, or region in which they operate.


A CEX is a Centralized Exchange, with a physical address and a corporate structure. Like other CeFi businesses, a CEX must follow all applicable laws, rules, money transmitter licenses, and regulations in each country, state, or region in which they operate. There are significant overhead costs in running a CEX including Corporate leaders, labor, rent and electricity, office supplies, significant legal expenses, and expensive money transmitter licenses to be able to operate in chosen countries, states, or regions.


A form of digital currency primarily used for payments or storage of wealth. Coins are secured by encryption algorithms. The market price of the coin represents the value of the ownership of a divisible unit of the coin or token (another name for a coin, but a type of coin with greater functionality) at a given moment in time. This coin or token can represent a share of the ownership and/or governance of a coin, token, protocol, company, or project and all of the benefits that this may entail.


The borrowing of a deposit asset or assets to seek further business activities such as Yield Farming. Collateralization can amplify gains or losses, and is thus, considered riskier than not borrowing funds.


The DeFi platform Compound. From the Compound DAO's description:

an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol built for developers, to unlock a universe of open financial applications.

Compound was built using community built interfaces and is an example of traditional institutional investors and CIIs (Cryptocurrency Institutional Investors) collaborating on a product that benefits both groups of investors, and the CeFi and DeFi communities.


A form of digital currency protected by encryption algorithms and represented as a digital coin or token. Cryptocurrency coins are programmed to systems and networks for:

  • Minting

  • Release

  • Reward

  • Distribution

  • Governance

  • Ability to make future changes

These digital coins or tokens include a ledger or blockchain record of all transactions that occur on their respective networks.


Curve is a decentralized stablecoin Automated Market Maker (AMM), that offers low-slippage trades among stablecoins (DAI, USDC, USDT, TUSD, BUSD, sUSD) and other synthetic assets (wrapped BTC) on the Ethereum blockchain. One advantage to providing liquidity in similar assets such as the above USD equivalents is that it is one solution to mitigating Impermanent Loss (IL) for Liquidity Providers (LPs) for the crypto derivatives and the output of the Curve.Finance Smart Contract, which utilizes four USD digital equivalent tokens to form a composite token called CRV.


A 21st-century invention, a dApp is a decentralized Web3 application that normally runs on a blockchain. Advantages of dApps are that: they allow for new solutions to problems, they are decentralized and are thus rugged, and they are resistant to outages and censorship.

dApps can provide decentralized software application services - such as the Brave browser - but it can also be used to trace and track goods, and can be used to enable international financial transactions without the delay, costs, and hassle of middlemen and bureaucracy. They can also be a keystone to the functionality of complex decentralized exchanges and crypto financial services such as price oracles.


Distributed Autonomous Organization. The first DAO was started in 2016. According to Wikipedia's definition, it is an:

"organization represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government. A DAO's financial transaction record and program rules are maintained on a blockchain."

When implemented well, a DAO allows for real-world experiments in decentralized democratic organization and control, with more freedom of action and less regulatory oversight for DAO controlled projects and products when compared to legacy corporate structures and organizations.


DeFi, or Decentralized Finance, is at its root a set of Smart Contracts running independently on blockchains such as the Ethereum network. Smart Contracts may or may not interact with other smart contracts and even other blockchains.

The goal of DeFi is to enhance the profitability of investors in DeFi through automated smart contracts seeking to maximize yields for invested funds. DeFi is marked by rapid innovative progression and testing of new ideas and concepts.

DeFi often involves high risk investing sometimes involving smart contracts that have not been audited or even thoroughly reviewed (a review is not as comprehensive as an audit, but may also be included as part of an audit). Due to this and other reasons, DeFi is conventionally considered to be riskier than CeFi or traditional investing.


The concept of permitting a person, company, or organization the ability to borrow utilizing another owner's deposited collateral.


In investing, a derivative is an investment instrument or tool that is based on an underlying asset or assets. Investopedia describes it thus:

Derivatives can be used to hedge a position, speculate on the directional movement of an underlying asset, or give leverage to holdings. Their value comes from the fluctuations of the values of the underlying asset. Originally, derivatives were used to ensure balanced exchange rates for goods traded internationally.

In DeFi, since 2020 there now exists a crypto derivative that is a new type of investment or asset class. This crypto derivative is a representation of an underlying digital base asset such as Ethereum, Dai, Curve, or YFI. Examples of their respective derivatives are yETH, aDAI, yCRV, and yYFI.


Decentralized EXchange. A cryptocurrency exchange that is decentralized, without a physical location. It is a Peer-2-Peer network operating on Smart Contracts where users buy and sell directly to one another, with only the DEX as a middleman. Without the high overhead and regulatory costs of doing business as a CEX, a DEX does not have to follow the stricter rules and regulations that CEXs must follow, and thus can be leaner, more profitable, and more efficient than a CEX. (For example: How does one sue or arrest an automated Smart Contract which is running on a Virtual Machine that is globally distributed? [Comment: TMI?])


Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency but Ethereum, which launched in July 2015, allows for much more complexity through the use of smart contracts and a Turing complete programming language.

Thanks to the ERC-20 protocol, Ethereum has many cryptocurrency coins such as LINK, CRV and YFI built on top of Ethereum, each with their own set of rules.


A cryptocurrency protocol based on the Ethereum blockchain. An ERC-20 coin, by definition, uses this protocol.

Fair Launch

A concept where a Developer decides to not seek outside investment and also does not hold back a share of a coin or token's launch for themselves or others. This is considered to be much fairer to early investors as their share of equity or ownership of a coin or token is not diluted by pre-investors or founders/founding teams.

Fair Launch Coin or Token

A Fair Launch coin or token is characterized by a launch that is fair to the public. This means that there was no Founder, Foundation or Development Team, Venture Capitalist, or early investor pre-allocation or pre-mining program to privately claim a portion of a coin's supply before its release for sale to the public. The first Fair Launch token was YFI, which was launched in 2020 by Developer Andre Cronje.


Investopedia's definition:

Fiat money is a government-issued currency that is not backed by a physical commodity, such as gold or silver, but rather by the government that issued it.

It usually requires fiat exchanged at a CEX or through local means such as Bitcoin ATMs to be able to purchase cryptocurrency with fiat currency.

Flash Loan

A type of loan that is only possible in the world of cryptocurrencies. A Flash Loan is a type of loan where the asset, often Ethereum or an ERC-20 coin, is loaned out only for the duration of the length of time it takes to complete one transaction block on the blockchain. As long as the loan is paid back before the next transaction block begins there is no interest fee incurred by the borrower.

Flash Loans allow for new types of investments that are nearly instantaneous algorithmic scripts to run in Smart Contracts that can be stacked upon one another for innovative yet sometimes risky investments. Flash Loans may also have vulnerabilities that may include systems vulnerabilities that take advantage of approved existing systems but are used in a novel malicious manner.


Fear Of Missing Out. The feeling that everyone else seems to be getting rich, profiting, or generally having a great time without you. In investing, it's a feeling that your current portfolio isn't performing well enough when compared to newer and "shinier" investment choices and options.

Forced Liquidation

Binance defines Forced Liquidation as:

In the context of cryptocurrencies, forced liquidation happens when the investor or trader is unable to fulfill the margin requirements for a leveraged position. The concept of liquidation applies to both futures and margin trading.

Gas Fees

Gas fees are rewards paid to Proof Of Work miners to incentivize them to support the network's transactions which become written to the blockchain. In Ethereum, this gas fee unit amount is expressed in gwei. Withdrawals or transfers to or from CEXs, DEXs Liquidity Pools, and Wallets all incur a gas fee. The amount of this gas fee will vary in cost depending on supply and demand. As currently designed: when demand on Ethereum or an ERC-20 network is at its highest, gas fees are at also their highest.


Governance refers to the control and use of a Governance coin, token, and/or project through various measures to grow the ecosystem or product and to maximize gains for governance token holders.

Governance Token

A token is used to govern the operations and influence the direction of a coin, token, and/or project controlled by the Governance Token. Holding these tokens is often profitable through direct price appreciation of popular governance tokens, but may come with other benefits that are only available to governance token holders and voters. Examples of governance tokens are MKR and YFI.


A unit of measurement of gas fees for transactions on the Ethereum network or ERC-20 coin networks.


A misspelled word by a crypto investor on an online forum from the early days of cryptocurrency, HODL became a term that was embraced as an inside joke by the nascent community of investors, coders, and entrepreneurs who supported coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum in the early days. They believe in the long-term promise of cryptocurrencies and held their investments through periods of massive volatility or even no volatility (i.e., price stagnation).

The choice or decision to hold onto one's crypto investments through bull and bear markets is called HODLing.


One who HODLs.

Impermanent Loss

In Automated Market Makers (AMM) lending providers (LPs) contribute assets for liquidity to market participants. These AMM pools utilize a bonding curve, typically built on a constant function market marker formula. Asset prices are constantly changed by the AMM pool in response to trading activities by participants. This is an effort to ensure that LPs can receive the same amount of assets they deposited when they withdrawal.

However, due to the volatility of asset prices and arbitragers, LPs occasionally will not receive the exact amount of assets upon withdrawal. The dollar value of the assets they withdraw would typically be lower than if they had not provided liquidity and just held the assets. This dollar value shortfall is known as impermanent loss. The loss is said to be impermanent because if asset prices return to the level during withdrawal the loss is eliminated.

Institutional Investor

The Dictionary definition:

a large organization, such as a bank, pension fund, labor union, or insurance company, that makes substantial investments on the stock exchange.

In CeFi & DeFi, traditional institutional investors have an easier on-ramp into cryptocurrency should they seek higher yields albeit at higher risks.

We have also seen a rise of a new type of a virtual mutual fund, a decentralized cryptocurrency funded mutual fund controlled by governance tokens and Smart Contracts called a Cryptocurrency Institutional Investor.

Unlike traditional mutual funds most of these CIIs are decentralized virtual institutes, usually governed and operating as a DAO - dedicated to using pooled funds and assets efficiently. CIIs wield available funds, tools, products, assets, votes via governance tokens, and Smart Contracts tactically and strategically to maximize investor's gains.

Lending Aggregator

A program or set of smart contracts that automatically seeks the best lending rates for depositors loaning coins for returns on their investment or ROI.

Lending Provider

A Lending Provider is a person or group who provides cryptocurrency capital in exchange for a share of rewards and fees gained by lending out and providing liquidity for various cryptocurrency coins and their respective networks. Loans are provided to traders, investors, exchanges, cryptocurrency networks, DAOs, and CIIs to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities and business opportunities by actors within the CeFi and DeFi space.


The use of multipliers on exchanges or markets that allow leveraged trading, such that providing 1 BTC deposit on such an exchange could provide the investment power of 10 to 100 BTC if used at 10x to 100x leverage.

Leveraged trades can amplify gains greatly. However, should the trade be unprofitable, it can also amplify losses greatly. The downside of this risky approach is that the entire deposit, 1 BTC in this example, could be lost in a liquidation event where a margin call on this leveraged trade could result in the entire deposit being lost during times of massive volatility and insufficient reserve funds for the investor, trader, or CII.

Liquidation Event

Another term for a Forced Liquidation, where due to rapid market changes, or a change in prevailing market sentiment, a trader or investor is unable to meet a margin call on their leveraged investment, their trading position is eliminated or liquidated, and the investor loses all or part of their initial investment(s).


A measure of how much available circulating supply there is of an asset or currency, and the activity of that asset or currency in an exchange, economy, or network. A currency with low supply and/or circulation is said to be illiquid.

Liquidity Mining

An energy-efficient form of cryptocurrency mining that supports work and transactions on a blockchain usually without expensive application or hardware-specific equipment required by older forms of cryptocurrency mining.

Rewards are provided to liquidity providers as a means to incentivize liquidity mining providers, in addition to growing and supporting a blockchain's user base.

Liquidity Pool

An LP, or Liquidity Pool, is a pool of deposited funds meant to provide liquidity to a currency, network, or Smart Contract. Liquidity is considered the lifeblood of any physical or digital currency, exchange, or financial network, so there will be designed rewards or incentives given to those who provide liquidity to LPs.

Liquidity Providers

In the realm of cryptocurrency and DeFi, this refers to investors who deposit an asset to provide liquidity on an exchange and/or network(s) to gain an ROI on their investment. Investors deposit one or more of their digital assets into decentralized Liquidity Pools (LPs) to provide liquid capital to exchanges and smart contracts. Liquidity Providers often provide two or more types of assets, in which Impermanent Loss is sometimes seen.

Liquidity Token

Implemented via Smart Contracts, a liquidity token is given to a depositor in exchange for that investor's deposit(s) to be used for other purposes such as yield farming. Examples of liquidity tokens include aDAI, yCRV, and yYFI. A liquidity token can be exchanged back


Maker is a decentralized governed financial ecosystem based on a Stablecoin called DAI. DAI is algorithmically pegged to $1 USD, with no volatility. A digital asset with no volatility at all, is sometimes seen as a hedge or safety measure in times of high volatility or during Bear markets.


The MakerDAO in charge of it describes it as:

"The MakerDAO Collateralized Debt Position (CDP) is a smart contract which runs on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a core component of the Sai Stablecoin System whose purpose is to create Sai in exchange for collateral which it then holds in escrow until the borrowed Sai is returned."


An available avenue of borrowed capital that is considered very high risk, as collateral must be provided for a margin loan to secure the loan. It is called margin or a margin loan because a risky loan is being taken on the margins of the investment to hopefully amplify gains for the investor or trader.

A margin loan is considered very high risk as the deposited base asset is at risk of liquidation during a margin call.

Margin Call

The act of implementing a Forced Liquidation or Liquidation Event when an investor or trader cannot meet debt obligations on leveraged trade positions. Margin calls can be triggered by rapidly changing market conditions and high volatility that bring Liquidation Events for some leveraged traders on exchanges and markets.


Market Capitalization. A measure of the total funds invested in a company or project. This market cap of a coin, company, or project can be calculated by multiplying the asset's unit price by the total number of coins.


MetaMask is a popular mobile or desktop software cryptocurrency wallet that can hold, transmit or receive Ethereum and ERC-20 compatible coins or tokens.

Mining Pool

A pool of cryptocurrency miners that provides mining services to a cryptocurrency network. Mining Pool operators and contributors are incentivized by a coin or token's programmed mining rewards to support transactions and provide liquidity on a coin's network.

Multisig Wallet

A multiple signature wallet is a cryptocurrency wallet that controls access and changes to one or more Smart Contracts. Community governed projects like a DAO often require multiple signers to approve a transaction before it will be executed. For community-based efforts, Multisig wallets for DAOs and DeFi projects are often implemented as 6 of 9 wallets, where 6 of 9 community wallet signers must agree to sign a transaction before a Smart Contract can be implemented.


A feed of data, such as the current market prices of an asset or assets, that provides a high confidence service to users and other services that the source and detail of the oracle's data are timely, accurate, and untampered. Sources of data may be singular or decentralized sources and may be dispersed geographically from one another. All exchanges and markets require accurate and timely information to operate properly at high efficiency. An example of the most well-known oracle protocol is Chainlink (LINK).


A smart contract containing shared amounts of assets provided by depositors. Pools are either used in Automated Market Makers (AMMs)for optimized trading purposes, lending aggregation (yPool), or in shared yield farming strategies (yVaults), among other things.


In High Technology, a protocol is a set of developed rules or specifications. These rules detail definitions, standards, limitations, and potential stipulations of a protocol. Examples of technology protocols include TCP/IP and ERC-20.


  1. To make changes to a portfolio or pool of funds for various reasons.

  2. An automated or manual tactical change to a yield farming strategy that is meant to nearly instantaneously do one or more of the following actions:

    • Gain profits through arbitrage

    • Take or secure profits

    • Reduce risks to investors or pooled funds

During periods of high volatility, the latter is especially the case if margin or leveraged funding is used by the trader, investor, or controller in charge of pooled funds. If an assessment is made that market conditions are a risk to invested funds, mitigation efforts will be implemented either autonomously or through manual intervention to reduce risks to invested funds.

Retail Investor

A non-professional individual investor who buys, sells, lends and/or yield farms cryptocurrencies, crypto derivatives, and crypto offerings. Retail investors pay full retail price for their transactions, instead of benefitting volume discounts and other preferential treatment reserved for whales and CIIs.


Return On Investment. The gains or losses on an investment. For example, doubling your investment in an asset would be a 100% gain, or 100% ROI. Losing all of your investment would be a 100% loss, or -100% ROI.


In trade, there is almost always a spread between the price that a buyer will pay and the price that a seller will sell an asset. When an order is made, this difference in price between buyer and seller expectations results in price slippage. This slippage in price is usually 1-3% but can be even more for coins with limited liquidity. This slippage can lead to a final sale price of the asset that is either more or less than the requested transaction amount.

Smart Contract

A digital contract that is programmed in a language that is considered Turing complete, meaning that with enough processing power and time, a properly programmed Smart Contract should be able to use its code base and logical algorithms to perform almost any digital task or process. Ethereum's programming languages, such as Solidity and Vyper, are Turing complete.


When an order is made on an exchange or market, the disagreement of the difference in price between potential buy and sell offers of an asset is called the spread. A wide spread in price can lead to higher slippage.


In cryptocurrency, it is a digital cryptocurrency equivalent to one (1) Dollar USD. In theory, the price of the stablecoin is pegged to the US Dollar, but in practice, there is some variance to nearly all stablecoins except for coins like DAI, which are designed with no volatility.

A stablecoin is an attractive investment to investors because:

  • It can be used as a safe harbor or hedge for cryptocurrency funds in times of downward volatility, also known as a bear market, whether this trend in downward volatility is temporary or prolonged in duration.

  • It can be used as diversification into the realm of Cryptocurrency finance to take advantage of new products in CeFi and DeFi that are unavailable elsewhere, as a safe diversification into crypto that won't lose nor gain significant value to the stablecoin price.

  • A coin with a stable price is used for transferring crypto around, as a means to not lose value in the base asset itself as it's being moved around or deployed to Smart Contracts or wallets.


The act of depositing a cryptocurrency coin or token into a yield farming project and/or protocol, whether the access to the project is either through CeFi or DeFi methods.

Stakers hope to gain interest on their deposits into these yield farming projects and offerings. CeFi is considered safer for several reasons - including strict rules, permitting, and regulations. However, DeFi tends to give much high rewards, while being accompanied with much higher risks, the earlier the investor participates in the project's lifecycle, testing, and development.


The act of staking a cryptocurrency deposit to yield farm additional cryptocurrency via CeFi or DeFi staking offerings, programs, or projects.


A testing network for a new coin, project, or product, or for potential improvements to an existing product or offering. Testnets are used to test the viability and vulnerability of new ideas, concepts, code, and processes prior to moving on to a production network or networks of some sort.


A type of coin, except with much greater functionality. Tokens can also be used as a method of payment like coins, but unlike coins, they can excel at other use cases such as the democratic governance of a protocol or system, or as a means to use underlying coins to make liquidity tokens from these coin deposits.

These liquidity tokens could then be used in innovative new strategies elsewhere via delegated funds to amplify gains with little risk to the underlying asset the liquidity token is based upon. An investor could choose this action so that further gains to their assets may be made by using the automated actions of intelligent Smart Contracts to optimize gains.

Turing Complete

In programming, it refers to a language that is powerful and semi-autonomous, in a way. When a language such as Solidity or Vyper is Turing complete, it means that with enough processing power and time, a properly programmed Smart Contract using a Turing complete language should be able to use its code base and logical algorithms to perform nearly any digital task or process.

A Turing complete language can even be programmed to have impacts on real-world activities through electronic means, as these rapidly executed digital commands can trigger actions in the real world through sensors, relays, switches, cameras, alarms, and alerts that can trigger a human and/or automatic response.

The concept of a Turing complete programming language was named after the inventor of the idea, Alan Turing. He was an unsung war hero and legendary mathematician. Turing was also a renowned and brilliant computer scientist, cryptanalyst, and forward thinker.


The Total Value Locked into a Smart Contract or set of Smart Contracts that may be deployed or stored at one or more exchanges or markets. This is used as a measurement of investor deposits. It is the dollar value of all the coins or tokens locked into a platform, protocol, lending program, yield farming program, or insurance liquidity pool.


In investing, a measure of how rapid changes are seen to the price of an asset or market. Newer early-stage technology companies and projects in the explosive growth stage tend to see very high volatility in the price of their assets in their early days. Should the company or project behind the volatile asset see their venture survive over time, this volatility tends to be much reduced as the company's market cap grows and matures.


A software or hardware cryptocurrency wallet that can hold a variety of coins.

Wallets may also be considered a cold wallet - meant to be used for long term storage of crypto coins for security purposes or a hot wallet, which is considered more at risk than a cold wallet due to its inaccessibility (usually offline). A hot wallet is meant to be used for active or semi-active transactions in and out of that wallet, as well as a place to withdraw or add funds.


A person who HODLs a large amount of cryptocurrency or cryptocurrencies.

Yearn Finance

A suite of DeFi tools and products in an interconnected financial ecosystem running on various smart contracts. The yEarn Finance ecosystem is community-controlled and governed via a governance token called YFI.

Yield Farming

The manual or automatic lending and/or arbitrage of digital assets to provide an ROI for lending out or depositing digital assets in CeFi or DeFi. Yield Farming can provide an additional income stream over and above any potential increase in the value of an underlying asset. For several reasons - including the ability to make rapid changes, much lower overhead costs, and no regulatory costs - DeFi tends to provide much higher yields when compared to CeFi options.

For other terms not found in this list, check out CoinMarketCap Glossary.

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