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Forex Glossary

There is no denying that forex trading carries a wealth of positives, but that doesn’t stop it from being confusing to those who are embracing the forex market for the first time.

What many upstart traders will likely find is a wealth of countless terms and phrases being thrown in their direction. Thankfully, help is now at hand to help you get up to speed. The following is a complete glossary of forex terms, which provides key definitions in the simplest way possible. Whether you’re a novice trader looking to learn the ropes or an experienced trader looking to brush up, the following forex glossary is something that you are going to want to keep close by.

A
Arbitrage

The act of taking advantage of countervailing prices within different markets through the sale or purchase of a currency. Thus, simultaneously taking an equal and opposite position in a related market to profit from small price differentials.

Ask

“Ask” (or “ask price”) is a term used to describe the price at which a trader accepts to buy a particular currency.

Asset

“Asset” refers to an item or resource of value, such as a currency or currency pair.

B
Base Currency

Within a currency pair, the first currency listed is known as the “base currency”. For example, when it comes to the GBP/USD pairing, the GBP functions as the base currency.

Bear Market

The opposite of a bull market, the term “bear market” is used to describe the price of an asset, currency, or security that is in decline. “Bear market” can also be shortened to simply “bear”, while the term “bearish” is also used to describe the state of the forex market when it’s in decline. 

Bull Market 

The opposite of a bear market, this term describes when the price of an asset, currency, or security is rising. Much like the term “bear market”, “bull market” is also often shortened, so you can expect to hear the terms “bull” and “bullish” used regularly.

Bid 

“Bid” (or “bid price”) is the term used to describe the price at which a trader is willing to sell a particular currency. 

Buy Limit Order

A buy limit order is an order to push through a transaction at a specified price or lower, with the term “limit” referring to the price threshold.

C
Carry Trade

Relates to when an investor borrows at a lower-than-average interest rate in order to buy assets that can potentially produce higher interest rates.

Closed Position

Closing a position means bringing a transaction to an end, incurring any related profits or losses as a result.

Closing Market Rate

Sometimes listed as the closing price, it represents the final value that a currency is traded at during any specific time frame, day, or candle.

Currency Appreciation

When a currency’s value rises against another, it will commonly be addressed as “currency appreciation”.

Currency Futures

Currency futures are contracts that state the price that a currency can be sold or bought for at a predetermined future date. Future contracts are a widely-used hedging tool amongst traders.

Currency Pair

The nucleus of the forex market, a currency pair is what’s being traded within any forex transaction. Currency pairs take on various forms, with most pairs labelled “major”, “minor”, or “exotic”. For example, GBP/USD qualifies as a major currency pair.

D
Daily Chart

A graph that breaks down the movements of a particular currency that have occurred within a single trading day.

Day Trade

A forex trade that is opened and closed on the same day.

Demo Account

Sometimes called a “demo account”, “dummy account”, “virtual currency account”, or “practice account”, a demo account is a forex trading account that makes use of virtual funds. This allows any trader to explore the market, making trades in an environment that doesn’t involve the use of any real capital.

Depth of Market

The volume of active buying and selling orders placed for a currency, covering a wide degree of prices.

Drawdown

When the price of a currency dips, the difference between the peak and the new low is labelled the “drawdown”.

E
ECN Broker

Representing a distinct type of broker. An ECN Broker makes use of Electronic Communications Networks (ECNs) to provide clients with access to liquidity providers.

Exchange Rate

Representing what the forex market is built upon, the exchange rate is the cost at which one currency can be traded for another.

Execution

This term refers to when a trade is put in motion and subsequently completed.

Exposure

“Exposure” is a term that is used to address the amount invested in a currency and its associated market risks.

F
Fill Price

Addresses the completion of an order, along with the price that it has been completed at.

Fill or Kill

If an investor has a set price in mind for a forex transaction, he or she can choose to implement a fill or kill order. What this means is that if the order isn’t fulfilled at the exact predetermined price, it is terminated.

Floating Exchange Rate

A term used to describe any exchange rate that is currently not fixed. A floating exchange rate tends to fluctuate dependent on the supply and demand (along with other factors) of a particular currency relative to other currencies.

Forex Chart

Similar to a daily chart, a forex chart is a digital chart that highlights points and price movements related to a currency pair. Forex charts can usually be extended to cover days, weeks, months, and even years.

Forex Scalping

A notable trading strategy that is based upon the idea that if you open and close a trade—buying and selling a currency—within a short space of time, you are likelier to earn profit than you would through large price movements. What forex scalping tends to represent is the “little and often” approach when it comes to forex trading.

Forex Signal System

Arguably the most commonly advertised forex service, a forex signal system works by issuing forex signals to subscribers related to current market activity. This signal (which can be issued through a number of means) can trigger a trade either automatically or manually. For example, a forex signal system may alert you that it’s a suitable time to either buy or sell a particular currency.

Forex Spot Rate

The forex spot rate determines the exchange rate that a currency can be purchased or sold at.

Forex Trading Robot

While not strictly a “robot” per se, a forex trading robot does refer to a piece of software that is designed to operate as a guide. It’s automated and should help determine when you should either buy or sell a currency pair.

Fundamental Analysis

The act of determining the impact that key political and economic events (unemployment rates, interest rate announcements, and so forth) have on the forex market. Traders conduct such analysis as a means to predict the future direction of the market with regard to their portfolios.

G
H
Hard Currency

Opposite of a soft currency, a hard currency is one that is often most resilient in times of political and economic instability and thus is generally considered to be dependable. For example, the Great Britain Pound (GBP), US Dollar (USD), and Euro (EUR) are well-known hard currencies.

Hedge

A method of trading that is used to protect an investor by reducing the risk that is associated with volatile markets. Hedging requires the trader to make two independent investments that work to balance each other out. This works to minimise the loss that could be incurred by price fluctuations.

I
Intervention

Intervention relates to actions committed by a nation’s central bank as a means to affect the value of its currency. This usually constitutes a direct entering of the market, which can then increase the level of control that nation has over the currency exchange rate.

J
K
L
Leverage

Leverage is a service offered by forex brokers that allows a trader to maximise his or her buying power. It gives the trader the ability to deposit a small amount of capital yet still trade currency in large volumes. Leverage is expressed by a ratio; for example, leverage of 1:100 increases a trader’s purchasing power by 100 times.

Limit Order

Representing an instruction to either close or open a transaction at a future price. For example, if EUR/USD is currently listed at 1.07503/1.07523, then a related limit order to buy EUR at a lower-than-current market value price would see the currency purchase occur at 1.07522 or below.

Liquidity

The amount (or volume) of a set currency currently available for active trading.

Long Position

Opposite of a short position, any investor who takes a long position buys a base currency with a view to profiting on a market price increase.

Lot

A lot is a standardised quantity of the currency you are choosing to trade with, with one lot equalling 100,000 units of a particular currency.

M
Margin

“Margin” refers to the amount of account balance required in order to maintain an open position.

Margin Call

This is an alert that notifies you that you need to make an additional deposit in order to increase your margin to keep remaining positions active.

Market Order

For those who want to trade instantaneously, a market order is what’s required, as it is an order for a trade to be executed immediately (if possible) at the best price available.

Micro Lot

Micro lot refers to 1,000 units of the base currency within a pair.

N
O
One Cancels the Other (OCO)

Made up of two limit orders, where the execution of one automatically triggers the cancellation of the other.

Open Position

A simple term to describe the position that a trader takes on a currency pair, subject to any profits and losses that it may accrue.

Over-the-Counter

A seldom-heard term in the era of online forex trading; an over-the-counter trade is a traditional way of handling a forex transaction. It involves pushing through an order via a telephone or electronic device and thus is no longer commonly seen.

Overnight Position

When a trader decides to keep a position open overnight and carry it over into the next trading day.

P
Pip

Standing for “percentage in point”, it represents the smallest possible price change that can occur within an exchange rate. More often than not, a currency is presented to four decimal points, with the smallest alteration in price occurring within the final decimal of the price listed.

Profit-Taking

Closing a forex position as a means to collect the related profit.

P&L

A standard abbreviation for “profit and loss”.

Q
Quote Currency

Within any currency pair, the second currency listed will always be referred to as the “quote currency”. For example, in the USD/GBP pairing, the GBP is the quote currency.

R
Rally

“Rally” references a currency’s recovery in price after a period of either short-term or long-term decline.

Resistance

The price level that a currency finds difficult to go beyond. In such instances, a currency will consistently knock on a price ceiling, only to see a decline begin when it isn’t able to break above it.

Risk Management

Considering the oftentimes-tumultuous nature of the forex market, traders must adopt risk management as a means to protect capital. Risk management practices usually take on the form of related strategies and tools that work to limit the financial risk as much as possible.

Rollover Rate

Incurring a rollover rate means the interest that a trader must pay (or earn) when he or she holds an open position overnight. Considering that such positions continue from one day to the next, the term “rollover” is fittingly used.

S
Short Position

Opposite of a long position, this involves taking a position that benefits from a currency’s decline in market price. When the base currency within the pair is eventually sold, then the position is assumed to be short.

Slippage

“Slippage” is a term used to describe when a trader executes a trade that goes through at a higher price than initially expected. This tends to occur during times of high volatility, when investors make use of stop-loss orders and market orders.

Soft Currency

Opposite of a hard currency, a soft currency is one that is often hit hardest by economic and political events and thus is generally considered to be unstable. For example, both the Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWD) and North Korean Won (KPW) are routinely labelled “soft currencies”.

Speculator

Representing a specific type of trader, anyone who is classified as a speculator is willing to take big risks while trading. The hope is that by embracing increasing levels of risk, the eventual profit return will be high.

Spike

Used to describe a sharp downward or upward movement in currency price that occurs during a short space of time. Contrary to popular belief that a spike can only describe an upward trend, in the world of forex, it has also been used to describe a downward trend.

Spread

The spread represents the difference between the ask and bid price of any currency pair. In most instances, this figure represents brokerage service costs and replaces transactions fees, with it usually presented in pips. It should be noted the spread could take on one of three forms through a fixed spread, a fixed spread with an extension, and a variable spread.

Stop-Loss Order

A market order to either buy or sell a currency when it hits a certain price. Generally speaking, a stop-loss order is placed in order to control losses occurring (or due to occur) in a set position.

T
Take-Profit Order (T/P)

A market order that stipulates that a position is to be closed once it hits a predetermined price or price range, thus taking all generated profit.

Technical Analysis

Investors use technical analysis as a means to forecast future price changes within the forex market. How this is conducted is by sifting through current and prior market data via trading indicators, charts, and other related tools.

U
V
Volatility

This addresses the degree of uncertainty (and related price fluctuations) of a security, currency pair, or specific currency. It can also be used as a term to describe the state of the forex market as a whole.

W
X
Y
Yield

“Yield” is a term that refers to the return on any forex investment made, with such usually displayed as a percentage figure within a trading platform.

Z

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