Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun Bit·coin \ˈbit-ˌkȯin\

Definition of Bitcoin

  1. :  a digital currency created for use in peer-to-peer online transactions <Introduced in 2008 by a person or group using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is the most prominent of a group of virtual currencies—money that exists mainly as computer code—that have no central issuing authority. — Carter Dougherty, Bloomberg Businessweek, 16 Dec. 2013> < … Bitcoin … is backed by no government and has a fluctuating value linked in part to a scarcity that is mathematically predetermined. Unlike other forms of digital cash, Bitcoin is truly untraceable and therefore, like cash, cannot be recovered if lost or destroyed. — Glenn Zorpette, IEEE Spectrum, June 2012>; also usually bitcoin plural bitcoins :  a unit of this currency <Bitcoins … are created by computers that solve difficult cryptographic problems. As more coins are created, the problems get tougher. The system is designed to produce no more than 21 million Bitcoins. About 12 million exist. — Carter Dougherty, Bloomberg Businessweek, 16 Dec. 2013> <Commercial space venture Virgin Galactic—which announced on Nov. 22 that it would start accepting bitcoins to reserve a refundable $250,000 seat on a future trip—is just the latest of many businesses that have recently embraced the decentralized virtual payment system. (At press time, 1 bitcoin was worth roughly $879.) — Time, 9 Dec. 2013> <Unlike credit card transactions, which leave a digital trail, bitcoin transactions are designed to be anonymous and untraceable. When you transfer bitcoins to someone else, it's as if you handed over a paper bag filled with $100 bills in a dark alley. — Paul Krugman, The New York Times, 15 Apr. 2013>

Wait, there’s more! This word doesn't usually appear in our free dictionary, but we’ve shared just a bit of the information that appears in our premium Unabridged Dictionary. There’s more definition detail there.

What else do you get in the Unabridged Dictionary?

  • 300,000 words that aren’t in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free


First Known Use of bitcoin


Variants of bitcoin

less commonly


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up Bitcoin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of a yellow-green or bluish-gray color

Get Word of the Day daily email!