Looking for a technical explanation for how ordinals and inscriptions work and how they differ from one another.

  • I removed the question about fungibility since another question already covers this and questions here work best when they keep to a single topic. Commented May 11, 2023 at 10:12
  • The idea that ordinals work is opinionated and has not been subject to the test of time.
    – Poseidon
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


inscriptions are the data (the JPEG for example) being inscribed into the witness section of a block. Once this data/inscription is burnt into the block via multiple confirmations of that block, it never moves again. It stays fixed in the same block number within the same witness section of that confirmed block,

Ordinals are the satoshis associated with this inscription event/burning of data into a block. They are often 10000 satoshis (called an envelope) that are leftover change. People use custom tracking software to track these satoshis after the inscription event so that people can trade them to each other as some kind of weird association game.

You can think of these 10000 satoshis/ordinals as a receipt.

People often trade these receipts thinking that the jpeg/inscription data moves with them. But that's not the case.

All that is really moving is the satoshis/receipt when ordinals are traded.

  • So in order for this game to work... the 10000 sats cannot be merged with other sats? (? because if it was merged with more sats you would have more than 1 copy ?! -- but then how to pay miner fee?) , and the tracking software needs to trace back all of its transactions/trades until it finds the data/inscription?
    – patrick
    Commented Mar 22 at 1:33

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