What Is a Degen in Crypto: Best Guide and Definition

Published: April 19, 2024 | Last Updated: September 21, 2023

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

At its core, a ‘degen’ is an abbreviation for ‘degenerate.’ In the context of crypto, it refers to an individual who engages in high-risk and speculative activities, usually involving trading and investing in trending cryptocurrencies.

Degen crypto investors are known for their adventurous and often reckless approach to the crypto market, seeking out quick profits.

They are unafraid to take significant risks and invest a lot of money while disregarding conventional wisdom.

Degens are good at spotting trending coins or creating a buzz around them with rallying cries such as LFG, WAGMI, and HODL.

They take higher risks by investing early in new tokens and seeking outsize returns.

You will often find Degens rallying around meme coins and the like.

degens invest in pepe
Degens invested early in $PEPE and successfully sold at the peak

DeFi degens will go after projects with extremely high yields no matter if the project is a Ponzi Scheme or not.

They are unlikely to do any due diligence and will judge a coin or protocol based on their feel for it.

While some view degens as reckless gamblers, others see them as pioneers driving innovation and pushing the limits of what is possible in the crypto industry.

What is the origin of Degen?

Originally, the term ‘degen’ was used to describe individuals with a degenerate gambling mindset, drawn to high-risk bets and speculative activities.

The term originates from casinos.

a crypto degen

However, as cryptocurrencies gained mainstream recognition and trading volumes skyrocketed, the meaning of ‘degen’ expanded to encompass a broader spectrum of behaviors and attitudes.

Today, labeling someone as a ‘degen’ usually refers to their high-risk trading strategies, impulsive decision-making, and an insatiable appetite for excitement.

Degen expressions

Crypto Degens wear the term with pride.

They see themselves as pioneers in a new financial system that is only now starting to emerge.

Degens have developed their own slang and jargon, creating a sort of secret code that is only decipherable by those immersed in the culture.

Here are some common phrases degens might use.

  • Apeing in. To ape in means to invest in a project that is picking up in popularity without giving it much thought
  • Rug pull: when the founders scam investors or sell all their tokens at a profit causing the market to crash.
  • Moonshot: aiming for a very high price that will reach the moon.
  • Low-cap gems: projects with a low market capitalization that are bound to see high returns in the future.

This secret language serves both as a badge of identity and a means of communication within the community.

It reinforces the sense of belonging among degens.

What is a DeFi Degen?

A DeFi degen is someone who takes high risk by investing in the ecosystem of autonomous protocols and apps known as DeFi.

DeFi stands for Decentralized Finance and originally started off on the Ethereum blockchain.

Many blockchains allow developers to build apps on top of them using a technology called smart contracts.

These apps, or Dapps (for decentralized ) as they are known, run on their own.

They do not need a middleman to perform or check operations. It’s all done by code.

So for example, you have lending and borrowing, decentralized exchanges, bonds, and all sorts of financial innovation.

Things break and implode on the way but DeFi Degens are the pioneers who are not afraid to take bets on anything new that comes out.

They seek out the highest yields and the more experienced of them pull out early before a project collapses.

Mind you they often lose money but those who survive make outsize returns and promote the term and concept.

To understand DeFi better you can read my Crypto 101 tutorials.

How Degens Are Shaping the Future of Cryptocurrency

Despite their reputation for risk-taking and unorthodox strategies, degens play a significant role in shaping the future of digital assets.

Their willingness to experiment with alternative investment approaches often leads to the discovery of new opportunities.

Degen trading drives early adoption of coins and small DeFi projects.

Degens provide the necessary momentum for certain projects to gain traction and attract mainstream attention.

In this sense, degens are not only shaping the crypto landscape but also contributing to the overall development and future of finance.

Traits of a ‘Degen’ in Crypto

When it comes to identifying a ‘degen’ in the crypto world, certain characteristics and traits are commonly associated with these individuals:

  1. Risk appetite: Degens are known for their exceptionally high tolerance for risk. They are not deterred by uncertainty or the potential risks. Instead, they thrive on the adrenaline rush that comes with taking bold risks and reaping rewards.
  2. Impulsiveness: Degens often make impulsive decisions based on gut feelings and immediate opportunities. They may disregard thorough research and technical analysis and rely on instinct when entering or exiting trades.
  3. Curiosity: Degens have a deep sense of curiosity and a constant hunger for knowledge. They actively seek out new information, trends, and emerging projects, always looking for the next big opportunity.
  4. Adaptability: Degens are exceptionally adaptable to changing market conditions. They quickly adjust their strategies and pivot their investments based on evolving trends and opportunities.

Types of Degens

While degens share common characteristics, it is important to note that they can vary greatly in their strategies, knowledge, and objectives.

Here are a few distinct types of degens commonly observed in the crypto world:

  1. Trading Degens: These degens focus on frequent trading activities, exploiting short-term price fluctuations, and seeking quick profits. They thrive on the excitement and fast-paced nature of the crypto market.
  2. Yield Farming Degens: These degens actively participate in yield farming protocols, constantly seeking out the highest yields across the DeFi space. They are skilled at optimizing their token holdings for maximum returns.
  3. ICO Degens: These degens specifically target initial coin offerings (ICOs) and invest in projects during their early stages. They assume higher risks but expect substantial returns if the project succeeds.
  4. Social Media Degens: These degens are highly active on social media platforms, following influential figures and attempting to emulate their strategies. They utilize sentiment analysis and market trends gleaned from online communities to inform their decisions.
  5. Altcoin Degens: These degens focus on investing in a wide range of alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) beyond the mainstream ones like Bitcoin and Ethereum. They are always on the lookout for the next hidden gem that could explode in value.

Example usages of the term “degen”

Here are some examples of how people use the term degen on social media:

  • “Just went all-in on a new meme coin. I’m such a crypto degen.”
  • “Watching my portfolio’s wild swings like a true crypto degen.”
  • Invested in a project without doing any research; I’m feeling like a degen trader today.”
  • “Bought some obscure altcoin that just launched. Total degen move, but let’s see if it moons!”
  • Liquidated my entire portfolio to leverage long on Bitcoin. Degen mode activated.”
  • “Shorting the market during a bull run? You must be a crypto degen.”
  • “Wow, those crypto traders were complete degens. They invested in those dump crypto scams and made a profit”
  • “To avoid becoming a degen make sure you do you own research”

Sample tweets using the crypto term “degen”

Other crypto terminology

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Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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