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I have noticed that some people speak of "coins". As far as I can tell, by "coin" they mean a transaction output. Is this a correct understanding? Is it helpful to use the word "coin"?

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Right. The statement "Alice has 5 coins" could be more precisely phrased "Alice controls the private keys for some set of addresses, to which are directed some set of transaction outputs with a total value of 5". But that's a lot more cumbersome.

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  • Actually that's not how I understand it. To me, "Alice has 5 coins" would not convey any information about total value... it would mean: "There are 5 unspent outputs in the blockchain payable to private keys held by Alice". Only if you would add up all the values of those 5 outputs would you know Alice's wealth. You could say "Alice has 3 coins, totalling 10 BTC, consisting of a 3.5 BTC coin, a 5 BTC coin and a 1.5 BTC coin"
    – RentFree
    Nov 15, 2013 at 17:48

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