Should "bitcoin" be used as a countable noun admitting a singular and a plural (so that one says "600 bitcoins are in this wallet") or as a mass noun, (like "water" or "money") (so that one says "How much bitcoin is used every day throughout the world" or "600 bitcoin is enough for this transaction")?

  • The former seems to be the consenus. The two latter examples are rarely if ever used. They would be more commonly expressed as "how MANY bitocinS are used every day" and "600 bitcoinS is enough for this transaction". – DeathAndTaxes Oct 17 '11 at 16:28

Everyone is using it as a countable noun. There's actually a grammatical rule that says this is what should happen. If a new term ends with an existing term and is semantically related to that term, it gets the old term's rules. If not, it does not.

So, a "pop fly" is not a type of fly (the bug). So we don't say "pop flies" but "pop flys".

A "bag lady" is a type of lady. So we don't say "bag ladys" but "bag ladies".

We don't say "two firemans" because while a fireman is not necessarily a man, the origin is directly related.

So, a "bitcoin" is a type of coin, the terms are semantically related. So it should inherit the rules of the word 'coin'. Since we'd say "one coin", "two coins", we would expect the rule to be "one bitcoin", "two bitcoins". This feels natural to people, so it's what they do.

  • 2
    Is this answer strictly in line with the consensus mentioned here: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/q/462/117. It would appear that a "Bitcoin" should be more accurately referred to as a "bitcoin" to differentiate it from the Bitcoin protocol. – Gary Rowe Oct 15 '11 at 0:35
  • I agree. I'll change my answer. – David Schwartz Oct 15 '11 at 1:12

I have typically seen Bitcoin used as a countable noun, as in your first example. There is much confusion around the terminology commonly used since the word can refer either to a project encompassing the currency or can refer to the units of currency themselves. We had quite a discussion on capitalization over on meta, for example.

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