Blockchain / Cryptocurrency Glossary

Every new concept has its own language. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are no different! In order to understand and communicate, we need to know the blockchain glossary being used. Here’s a head start!


51% Attack

When more than half of the computing power of a currency network is controlled by a single entity or group. Should they have the malicious intent, this entity or group may issue conflicting transactions to harm the network.


Cryptocurrency addresses are used to send or receive transactions on the network. An address is usually a string of alphanumeric characters.


Short form for ‘Application Specific Integrated Circuit’. Often compared to GPUs (Graphic Processing Units), ASICs are specially made for mining and may offer significant power savings.



Bitcoin is the first decentralized, open source cryptocurrency that runs on a global peer to peer network, without the need for a middleman and a centralized issuer.


Blocks are packages of data that carry permanently recorded data on the blockchain network.


A blockchain is a shared ledger where transactions are permanently recorded by appending blocks. The blockchain serves as a historical account, from the genesis block to the latest block, hence the name blockchain.

Block Explorer

Block explorer is an online tool to view all transactions, past and current, on the blockchain. They provide useful information such as network hash rate and transaction growth.

Block Height

The number of blocks connected on the blockchain.

Block Reward

A form of incentive for the miner who successfully calculated the hash in a block during mining. Verification of transactions on the blockchain generates new coins in the process. And, consequently, the miner receives a portion of them as a reward.


Central Ledger

A ledger maintained by a central agency.


The successful act of hashing a transaction and adding it to the blockchain.


Consensus is achieved when all participants of the network agree on the validity of the transactions. This also ensures that the ledgers are exact copies of each other.


Also known as tokens, cryptocurrencies are representations of digital assets.

Cryptographic Hash Function

Cryptographic hashes produce a fixed-size and unique hash value from variable-size transaction input. The SHA-256 computational algorithm is an example of a cryptographic hash.


Cryptography is the art of coding and decoding information between parties. This also involves the use of a digital  “lock and key”.



A decentralized application (Dapp) is an application that is open source, and operates autonomously. It  has its data stored on a blockchain, incentivised in the form of cryptographic tokens and operates on a protocol that shows proof of value.


Decentralised Autonomous Organizations can be thought of as corporations that run without any human intervention. They  also surrender all forms of control to an incorruptible set of business rules.

Distributed Ledger

Distributed ledgers are ledgers in which data is stored across a network of decentralized nodes. A distributed ledger does not have to have its own currency and may also require permission and be private.

Distributed Network

A type of network where processing power and data are spread over the nodes rather than having a centralized data center.


This refers to how easily a data block of transaction information can be mined successfully.

Digital Signature

A digital code generated by public key encryption that is attached to an electronically transmitted document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

Double Spending

Spending money more than once is double spending.



Ethereum is a blockchain-based decentralized platform for apps that run smart contracts. And it is also aimed at solving issues associated with censorship, fraud, and third party interference.


The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a Turing Complete virtual machine that allows anyone to execute arbitrary EVM Byte Code. Every Ethereum node runs on the EVM to maintain consensus across the blockchain.



Forks create an alternate version of the blockchain, leaving two blockchains to run simultaneously on different parts of the network.


Genesis Block

The first or first few blocks of a blockchain.


Hard Fork

A type of fork that renders previously invalid transactions valid, and vice versa. This type of fork requires all nodes and also users to upgrade to the latest version of the protocol software.


The act of performing a hash function on the output data. Confirmation of coin transactions uses hash.

Hash Rate

Mining rig performance measurement uses hashes per second.

Hybrid PoS/PoW

A hybrid PoS/PoW allows for both Proof of Stake and Proof of Work as consensus distribution algorithms on the network. In this method, a balance between miners and voters (holders) may be achieved, creating a system of community-based governance by both insiders (holders) and outsiders (miners).



Internet Coin Offering – The idea to presale coins of a cryptocurrency or token of a blockchain project has evolved in a crazy successful instrument to raise funds for the development of a new application.



Mining is the act of validating blockchain transactions. The necessity of validation warrants an incentive for the miners, usually in the form of coins. In this cryptocurrency boom, mining can be a lucrative business when done properly. By choosing the most efficient and suitable hardware and mining target, mining can also  produce a stable form of passive income.


Multi-signature addresses provide an added layer of security by requiring more than one key to authorize a transaction.



A copy of the ledger operated by a participant of the blockchain network.



Oracles work as a bridge between the real world and the blockchain by providing data to the smart contracts.


Peer to Peer

Peer to Peer (P2P) refers to the decentralized interactions between two parties or more in a highly-interconnected network. Participants of a P2P network deal directly with each other through a single mediation point.

Public Address

A public address is the cryptographic hash of a public key. Published anywhere, they act as email addresses, unlike private keys.

Private Key

A private key is a string of data that allows you to access the tokens in a specific wallet. They act as passwords that are kept hidden from anyone but the owner of the address.

Proof of Stake

A consensus distribution algorithm that rewards earnings based on the number of coins you own or hold. Consequently, the more you invest in the coin, the more you gain by mining with this protocol.

Proof of Work

A consensus distribution algorithm that requires an active role in mining data blocks, often consuming resources, such as electricity. Therefore, the more ‘work’ you do or the more computational power you provide, the more coins you are rewarded with.



Litecoin uses Scrypt which is a type of cryptographic algorithm. Compared to SHA256, this is quicker as it does not use up as much processing time.


Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin also use a cryptographic algorithm call SHA-256. However, it uses a lot of computing power and processing time. Consequently, this forces miners to form mining pools to capture gains.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts encode business rules in a programmable language onto the blockchain and are also enforced by the participants of the network.

Soft Fork

A soft fork differs from a hard fork in that only previously valid transactions are made invalid. Since old nodes recognize the new blocks as valid, a soft fork is essentially backward-compatible. This type of fork requires most miners upgrading in order to enforce, while a hard fork requires all nodes to agree on the new version.


Solidity is Ethereum’s programming language for developing smart contracts.



A test blockchain used by developers to prevent expending assets on the main chain.

Transaction Block

A collection of transactions gathered into a block that can then be hashed and added to the blockchain.

Transaction Fee

All cryptocurrency transactions involve a small transaction fee. These transaction fees add up to account for the block reward that a miner receives when he successfully processes a block.

Turing Complete

Turing Complete refers to the ability of a machine to perform calculations that any other programmable computer is capable of. Hence, an example of this is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).



A file that houses private keys. It also usually contains a software client allowing access to view and creating transactions on a specific blockchain that the wallet is designed for.