Bitcoins vs Bit Coins and Bitcoin vs Bit coin

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A surprising trend has emerged recently.  People are using bit coins and bit coin instead of bitcoins and Bitcoin.  To go along with our introductory articles on Bitcoin and digital currency, such as “What is Bitcoin?“, we have decided to clear this up for new users.

What Are Bitcoins or Bit Coins?

Let me address this immediately.  The correct term is bitcoins, not bit coins.  Bitcoins are units of currency that are created, through the process of Bitcoin mining.  Bitcoins are not physical objects, which is part of the reason they should not be termed bit coins, in the way that one might mention silver coins or gold coins.  The other reason is simply the fact that the original creator of the Bitcoin protocol, known simply as Satoshi Nakamoto, also gave the currency its single word name:  bitcoin.  You may notice that I am using seemingly random capitalization on the word Bitcoin or bitcoin, and there is a reason for that as well.

Then, What is Bitcoin or Bit Coin?

While bitcoins are the currency associated with the Bitcoin network, the capitalized version of the word refers to Bitcoin as a whole.  There is only one “Bitcoin” and that is the Bitcoin protocol.  Capitalization is also used when referring to something associated with Bitcoin, but not Bitcoin itself.  The Bitcoin network, which is the peer-to-peer network that makes the entire system work; the Bitcoin community, which refers to individuals that use bitcoins, or are involved with the various Bitcoin related forums, websites, etc.; and Bitcoin businesses, which are businesses that either accept bitcoins as a method of payment, or businesses that are built specifically for Bitcoin.

In this case, the term Bit coin make no sense, as it is not even referring to a coin, or currency, of any sort.

The only exceptions to the capitalization rules mentioned above are when the currency, as a singular bitcoin or plural bitcoins, are used at the start of a sentence, or in a title.

So, It is Bitcoin and Bitcoins, not Bit Coin and Bit Coins?

Rather, outside of the format of a title, as used above, it would be “Bitcoin and bitcoins, not Bit coin and bit coins.”  I know this seems like a small issue, but when a currency and a protocol share a name, there needs to be differentiation between the two.  In fact, this is one of the reasons that many members of the Bitcoin community support the move to focusing on smaller units of the currency, such as bits, which are equal to 0.000001 bitcoins.  This means that each bitcoin would be composed of 1 million bits, and hopefully remove some of the confusion between Bitcoin and bitcoin, and put a stop to the term “bit coins.”

Will that work?  Maybe.  However, one thing that is known to alleviate such confusion is clear instruction and education.  I hope this has helped on that front.

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Coinbrief

Coin Brief is an open source website for digital news. It provides cryptocurrency tools, mining calculators, tutorials, and more. It was acquired by 99Bitcoins on September 2015.

3 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, as the makers of Kleenex have learned, people are going to do what they please. Sure, “facial tissue” might seem to be the generic phrase, but people say, “Do you have some kleenex” quite often. Bitcoin, bitcoin, or bit coin, it isn’t up to us. We can point the way, and I agree with what you write. But in the end, we’re going to encounter people writing and saying what they please. Having looked at Twitter and Snapchat, on occasion, I am surprised when people spell or capitalise anything. The joy of the English language is that it has never had an authority to set “rules.” Usage is what the users say it is.

    • Yeah, I agree Tyrone. The point was more for clarity, as many people do use the rules I outlined (bitcoin and bitcoins for currency, Bitcoin for the protocol or ideas, entities, etc. related to Bitcoin). For someone who has no idea about the difference, this could be confusing.

      Regarding Bit coin and bit coin…well, that isn’t common enough that I think it will take hold, but wanted to help head it off proactively :p

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