Shitcoin is a slang expression used to describe a cryptocurrency that has little value or purpose, especially with no unique features or utility, and may also be a scam or money-grab attempt. The term originated in crypto communities sometime during the early 2010s as a way to describe altcoins that were developed after the rise of Bitcoin. This slang commonly appears online in memes, media or in various discussions, including a website and podcast surrounding the crypto industry based on the original definition.
Though the exact first use of the term “shitcoin” to describe altcoins online is unknown, the slang term appears as early as 2011 in a blog post from the site Herbert R. Sim depicting a fictional “Blade of Bitcoin” as the “slayer of shitcoins” (seen below). The site also includes a link to Investopedia’s definition of the term from that same timeframe, which is described as “… a cryptocurrency with little to no value or a digital currency that has no immediate, discernible purpose.”
After initially being spread online for several years, the phrase began appearing in other places around the web. On December 3rd, 2013, the subreddit /r/shitcoin was created with a dedication to various shitcoins, accumulating over 300 members in seven years. The term also began seeing use in memes, such as a post from Facebook user Agoristball on December 18th, 2017, receiving over 440 likes, 490 shares and 40 comments in three years (shown below).
On February 18th, 2018, the slang was added to Urban Dictionary by user Tatsuman, which defined it as “A cryptocurrency of little to no value, usually a late-comer to the Bitcoin craze, a copycat cryptocurrency,” receiving 420 likes in roughly three years (seen below).
On June 4th, 2018, Instagram account cryptosharkk posted a Is This a Pigeon? meme using the term, accumulating over 2,300 likes in two and a half years (shown below, left). On January 8th, 2021, Instagram account ethereum_updates posted another example of a meme referencing Shitcoin, accumulating over 2,200 likes in three days (shown below, right).
In early 2018, the site Shitcoin.com was launched to discuss and review various altcoins in the cryptocurrency world, including a newsletter and podcast (seen below).