This content was updated to be current for our readers – September 13, 2023
Reddit is a social media platform where members can engage in discussion threads about various topics. Wallstreetbets is an eight million strong forum where members can talk about investing in the stock market.
- Wallstreetbets Overview: Wallstreetbets, also known as WSB and r/wallstreetbets, is a popular subreddit on Reddit where members discuss stock market investments. The forum is characterized by its unique blend of humor, memes, and financial discussions, often described as “4chan found a Bloomberg terminal.”
- Unique Slang and Terminology:
- Stonk: A humorous way to refer to a stock, originating from an internet meme.
- Diamond Hands: Refers to holding onto a stock or option despite market volatility, with the belief that its price will eventually rise.
- Tendies: Initially a reference to chicken tenders, this term has evolved to represent profits made from stock trading.
- YOLO (You Only Live Once): Represents a high-risk investment choice, often made impulsively.
- HODL: Originated from a typo for “hold,” it signifies the strategy of holding onto an investment long-term rather than reacting to short-term market fluctuations.
- To the Moon: Indicates the belief that a particular stock will see a significant increase in its price.
- Wallstreetbets’ Influence: The subreddit gained mainstream attention, especially after the GameStop short squeeze in 2021. The community’s discussions and memes can influence stock market movements, showcasing the power of collective retail investing.
- Community Growth: Following significant events like the GameStop saga, Wallstreetbets experienced a surge in membership, leading to stricter moderation and a vetting process for new members.
Reddit WallStreetBets Slang:
- Diamond Hands
- To the Moon
- Apes Together Strong
- Buy High Sell Low
- Buy the Dip
- Paper Hands
- We Like the Stock
As you may or may not know, Reddit’s forum is broken into various subreddits, each one dedicated to a particular topic of discussion. The subreddit Wallstreetbets, also known as WSB and r/wallstreetbets, is a space where stock market investors can talk about (what else) the stock market. However, r/wallstreetbets is nothing like the opinion column of the Wall Street Journal or a roundtable discussion between financial pundits on FoxBusiness. Wallstreetbets describes itself as “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal.” For those not in the know, 4chan is an anonymous message board that is frequently the site of humorous imagery (memes, specifically) that has facilitated its own comic and sometimes controversial reputation. And as for a Bloomberg Terminal, that’s a piece of financial reporting hardware and software that allows a financial advisor to take a real-time look at the market.
Put the two together, and you’ve got Wallstreetbets; r/wallstreetbets advertises itself as a place to facilitate tongue-in-cheek discussion of the stock market. Many of its members have been described as young retail investors who are not averse to risk, and who may view day trading as an opportunity to improve their financial situation. The memes and discussion threads on Wallstreetbets frequently inspire highly speculative options trading, much of it leveraged (meaning, with borrowed money—and since many of its members are in their early twenties or thirties, that borrowed money might be, for example, student loans). Wallstreetbets has also become known for its somewhat immature threads laced with profanity and controversial references, as you might expect from a gathering of younger users conversing about competitive topics like tendies (more on what that means momentarily). You might say it’s sort of like the back of the Reddit school bus, replete with its own lingo and slang terms.
But at the same time, the incident with GME stock has shown the world that r/wallstreetbets is a force to be reckoned with, even if it’s a place where the hottest buys on the stock market depend on who can make the best memes. Wallstreetbets has seen its membership surge in recent weeks and months, to a point where moderators have had to close the forum and only allow new members to come in through a vetting process. Of course, there are plenty of other threads and discussion boards about the stock market on the internet, but few have WallstreetBets’ charisma of 4Chan combined with a Bloomberg Terminal.
When Was WallStreetBets Created?
WallStreetBets was created on January 31st, 2012. Though it was already almost a decade old, it wasn’t until the GameStop short squeeze of 2021 that the subreddit known as r/wallstreetbets garnered attention from mainstream news media outlets. After that, the number of members exploded.
Reddit WallStreetBets Slang
If you’re curious in perusing the r/wallstreetbets subreddit, you’ll want to be aware of the slang the community uses within its investing discussions. This jargon includes:
Stonk means stock. This term originated with an internment meme of a suited man (presumably a trader) standing in front of some numbers and a big orange arrow, all of it titled “stonks.” The meme was a cheeky reference to making bad financial decisions, sort of like someone who cannot even pronounce stocks correctly.
2. Diamond Hands
The term “diamond hands” refers to holding on to a stock or option despite volatility and losses in the confidence that its price will eventually increase. On memes, the phrase is represented with emojis of a diamond and then hands. The term actually indicates risk taking, and is sometimes the folly of stubbornly holding on to a stock or option until the bitter end, even when the ship should have been abandoned long ago. Whether having diamond hands is good or bad will probably depend on the final outcome of the ticker symbol.
This one has a bizarre etymology (to say the least). Tendies is short for chicken tenders, and it comes from 4Chan as part of reference to grown men living with their mothers—men who would be rewarded for good behavior and self-sufficiency with GBP (good boy points), which they could then redeem for their favorite food: chicken tenders (we warned you the background was a little strange). The term moved to r/wallstreetbets where members used it self-deprecatingly in reference to their own living arrangements. Eventually, the term came to be associated with money or profit made from stock trading and options trading, which is how it’s most frequently used today.
You only live once. This term actually seems to originate from the notion encapsulated in the Latin “carpe diem” (seize the day). It became popularized around 2012, in large part because of its usage in the rap song “The Motto” by Drake and Lil Wayne. In internet parlance, YOLO often humorously refers to an extremely risky choice that seems simultaneously laughable and dangerous. On Wallstreetbets, YOLO could apply to a trade where an investor puts in the majority of their capital—for instance, putting 95 percent of their account into Dogecoin.
HODL might seem to stand for Hold on For Dear Life, the encapsulated notion of which is also popularly expressed in the phrase Hold the Line. But actually, HODL really came about because of a typo for hold.
It all started on December 18th in 2013, when user GameKyuubi posted an inebriated, typo-filled, and only partially coherent internet rant about his poor trading skills, and how it would be better for people like himself to avoid day trading and stick to a buy and hold principle. The title of the post was I AM HODLING, and the rest is history. Images from Braveheart, 300, and Game of Thrones have provided the meme substance for promoters of the HODL principle—that is, avoid trading decisions based on short term swings, which can be simply ruinous for stock investors who do not know what they are doing. The HODL principle is particularly discussed in the cryptocurrency venue, where it contrasts against principles such as FOMO (the fear of missing out).
6. To the Moon
As you might guess, this term indicates that a given stock is going to have wild success in terms of its price increase, resulting in a lot of tendies for investors. In emojis, this phrase is indicated by rockets. Gamestock and AMC Theatres are just two examples of stock that members celebrated going to the moon.
If you see a sizable number of community members using this phrase to discuss a ticker symbol, it might be something you want to pay attention to. Of course, there are certainly other factors as to whether or not that translates to tangible success beyond the reddit threads.
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7. Apes Together Strong
Often represented with a gorilla emoji, the “apes together strong” phrase comes from Planet of the Apes. Apes are retail investors who feel bullish (optimistic) about a particular stock that is expected by short sellers to drop in price. If enough retail investors band together, they can be strong enough to drive up the price of the stock and defeat the goal of the short sellers, who want the price to fall (short selling involves borrowing a stock, selling it, and then selling it back to the investor after the price has dropped).
Apes together strong encapsulates the idea of the proverbial little man uniting with other everyday people to defeat more powerful institutional investors. This was seen recently in 2021 with GameStop and AMC Theaters.
A bear investor is one who feels bearish about a particular stock (or even the stock market in general). They are somewhat of a debbie downer on the r/wallstreetbets forum, and may become the butt end of jokes and insults, since most community members are looking for that next stock or cryptocurrency to go to the moon.
Tangentially, the phrases bear market and bull market relate to whether the market is going up and down. Since bears strike by coming down on their target, a bear market suggests decreasing stock prices. Because bulls gore their target by moving their horns upward, a bull market suggests increasing prices. Though this imagery is not unique to Wallstreetbets, it’s probably one of the few places where a bearish perspective on a security or the market in general can earn someone the appellation of being a bear themselves.
9. Buy High Sell Low
This is a joke about losses, expressed in a joking reference to the traditional, sensible, and simple advice of buy low and sell high. Someone who bought high and sold low has failed miserably at turning a particular trade into something financially profitable, leaving them at the mercy of jabs from other community members.
10. Buy the Dip
For members who feel overall bullish about a particular stop, slight dips in its generally upward price are a momentary respite to buy the stock at a discount. Buying the dip expresses this timely trade, and is often paired with Diamond Hands and To the Moon for a potent meme trio.
11. Paper Hands
Paper hands are the opposite of diamond hands, referencing traders who unload their shares at the first sign of bad news. As you can imagine, the connotation here is somewhat negative in its indication of a trader who acts too quickly, out of fear.
12. We Like the Stock
This phrase comes from Jim Cramer, who was the host of Mad Money on CNBC. The simple phrase is used to indicate a favorable attitude toward holding a stock, much in the same way that Cramer would have used the phrase. During the Game Stop Short Squeeze, Cramer actually said “WallStreetBets is too powerful, and trying to bet against them right now is just giving them more ammo,” an accolade that many a community member probably appreciated.
What is WallStreetBets Next Target?
The best answer to that question is just to join r/wallstreetbets. You have to put in a request to join the group, especially since it’s swelled by millions of members. But once you’re there, you’ll be able to see what members are talking about, and now you’ll be able to understand some of the terms being used in the discussion.
The media likes to speculate about what wallstreetbets’ next target might be—recent guesses include Tanger (NYSE: SKT), the parent company of Tanger Factory Outlets. GameStop (NYSE: GME) still seems to be a target of discussion. Blackberry (NYSE:BB), Tootsie Roll Industries (NYSE: TR) and AMC Theatres (NYSE: AMC) are also still often discussed, but some financial pundits believe these were and will be nothing other than pump and dump schemes that leave many unsuspecting retail investors with a loss.
What is a Pump and Dump?
A pump and dump involves pumping up the price of a stock, for instance, by creating a lot of media excitement around it, enjoying the price increase, and then dumping lots of it when it’s at the top. This then makes the price go down, leaving everyone who attempted to ride it along the way but came in too late with a loss.
This is a (technically illegal) practice that has been used to manipulate the financial market, sometimes by large banking institutions or a major hedge fund. The members of WSB are self-described apes taking a stand against the hedgies (hedge fund managers) who have been accused of manipulating the markets to their benefit. Many of the members on WSB do not have the resources available to hedge fund managers, but what happened with GameStop showed the world that it is possible to beat Wall Street at its own game.
What Happened with GameStop?
On September 19, 2020, one of the r/wallstreetbets community members, Player896, posted “Bankrupting Institutional Investors For Dummies, Featuring GameStop.” The title itself illustrates the irreverent nature of the reddit group, as it’s a reference to the popular Dummies series providing how-to advice on a range of topics (personal finance included).
Chewy’s Ryan Cohen Purchases 12 Percent Share of GameStop
Player896 was telling WSB users that he had a bullish perspective on the stock price of GameStop, a brick-and-mortar retailer that sells video games. Despite the fact that GameStop’s stock was in decline, Player896 insisted that their books were rock solid (namely, that company was in good financial health) and cited the move of Chewy CEO and founder Ryan Cohen’s decision to purchase a 12 percent share of the company for $76 million as proof. When Cohen joined the GameStop board with another Chewy Cofounder, GameStop shares soared upwards of 50 percent, no doubt prompting WSB users to think it might go to the moon.
Financial Institutions Bet Against GameStop
This was bad news for institutional investors who were banking on GameStop to fail. Financial institutions, like hedge fund Melvin Capital and Citron Research, were taking a short seller position on GameStop stock—meaning that they would borrow shares of GameStop stock, sell it at the highest price possible, wait for the price to fall, and then rebuy the stock at a lower price, pocketing the difference. With a company like GameStop, this certainly seemed like a done deal, since the brick-and mortar-retailer seemed to be in the death throes of its own obsoletion. However, if the financial market goes against the short seller’s plan, they can be left with a huge loss. And if the price rises dramatically, the losses can be catastrophic. The cyclic nature of the catastrophe is due in part to the fact that heavily shorted stocks can actually drive the stock price up—because there is such a buying frenzy as the short sellers attempt to minimize their losses.
Wallstreetbets (and Elon Musk) Create a Buying Frenzy
This is exactly what happened with GameStop stock. Individual investors who were part of the Wall Street Bets cadre started a buying frenzy. Even Elon Musk, now the world’s richest man, joined in on the feeding frenzy by posting on Twitter, “GAMESTONK!” This phrase was a play on the business name GameStop, with the last four letters referring to a wallstreetbets slang term “stonk.” By posting GAMESTONK, Musk was referring to the buying frenzy of wallstreetbets day traders and community members in buying GameStop stock. The stock itself soared in price a whopping 1,800 percent, from less than $20 to $380 per share. Cohen’s $76 million, as it were, inflated to $2.5 billion.
Robinhood Limits Access to Users Trying to Buy GME
The trading platform Robinhood cut off access to any retail investor trying to buy shares of GameStop, leading to a huge public outcry and backlash. Robinhood insisted that they were attempting to respond to dramatic increases in transactions that would have jeopardized their cash reserves, but many Reddit investors (and even the general public) cried foul over a move that assisted major financial institutions while limiting the trading activity of everyday people. Incidentally, Robinhood has also come under fire for aggressively marketing to retail investors with little knowledge of the financial markets. In any case, the GameStop Short Squeeze (as this even has come to be called) raised serious questions about why it is okay for a hedge fund to engage in practices that are potentially market manipulation, but the apes (everyday retail investors) cannot take grassroots action over a meme stock.
Will Wallstreetbets Succeed Again?
The NASDAQ exchange has said it will monitor social media posts to avoid another incident that created the upward spiral of GME stock, one that crippled large hedge funds. But as mentioned, reddit users are already on to new targets. With GME stock, they showed the world that it is possible for David to beat Goliath at his own game of market manipulation. It will indeed be interesting to see if institutional investors have installed sufficient safeguards to prevent this from happening again, or if indeed “apes together strong” is more than a one-off event.
In the meantime, the average retail investor is better off avoiding the dangerous (if not exhilarating) waters of day trading, and instead take a more traditional approach in regards to investing strategies. You can learn more about these strategies by picking up a copy of Infinity Investing by Toby Mathis. Though the process of actually building wealth from the stock market is not as entertaining as buying and selling stocks based off of memes, it is far less risky and tends to have a much better ending for most casual investors who want to go to the moon.
Wallstreetbets Can Be Informational, but Always Do Your Research
Wallstreetbets has its own lingo for discussing the stock market, and learning that lingo is important if you want to be in the loop of its memes and discussion threads. Of course, as mentioned, the members of WSB are often young and less adverse to risky moves that could be simply ruinous for people playing around with their own money. Many of them view the opportunities of day trading to be a potential way of improving their financial situation, and apps like Robinhood have facilitated their interest.
However, making money on the stock market often requires a little more research than making moves based on internet discussion threads and memes. Joining a group where you can benefit from advice given by investors who have actually seen long-term success on the stock market is an excellent way to avoid risky YOLO trading and take your portfolio to the moon in the long run. That said, apes might want to check out an Infinity Investing membership.
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