Just tried to transfer some bitcoins to my new trading account online to get some cash out. But as luck would have it the transactions were all massively backlogged and I apparently did not use enough fee to get enough miner's attention to push it out. Was stuck in the limbo of non-verified so tried to see if I could cancel or bump the fees. Since it was not yet verified I did restarted my bitcoin Core with the wallet option to wipe unconfirmed transactions so I could get the client to ungray the "abandon" button. That worked. But now I am unsure if the bitcoin was recredited to my wallet since I forgot to write down the pre/post balances.

When this transaction falls out of mempool (I presume it will) does the wallet get recredited or did that happen automatically when I abandoned the transaction? Just want to make sure I have not just lost some bitcoins in limbo forever...

1 Answer 1


To understand the situation fully, let me clarify what happens when you publish a transaction.

Upon publishing a transaction, the bitcoins do not "leave your wallet". At any given moment, a "bitcoin" exists as an address in the blockchain that has an "unspent output". Publishing a transaction simply broadcasts your intent to spend that output to a new bitcoin address, but until the transaction is confirmed (mined into a new block), your bitcoins still reside at their old address.

So, after publishing a transaction, the network's nodes will understand that someone is trying to spend an unspent output, so your wallet will not give you the ability to spend those coins more than once (there are some special cases, but for normal transactions this is the case). So it appears your coins are unspendable, locked 'in limbo', but they in fact still reside in your address, until the transaction confirms.

You can make your wallet forget about its previous unconfirmed transaction, but you will never be able to guarantee every node in the network will also forget it. If your transactoin does not confirm after a long while, enough nodes will likely forgot the transaction that you will be able to publish a new transaction to re-spend the coins.

So bitcoins cannot become 'lost in limbo', there just might be times where the network ignores a more recent transaction, in favour of another older one that that spends the same coins, and that they saw first.

  • Thanks. I went ahead and did a new transfer for a same amount and notice that it did reuse at least one of the same "inputs" as the original transaction. And that transaction DID confirm. That I presume invalidates the prior transaction that I had abandoned and I see in by wallet transaction history that it "greyed out" with a notation in the details window showing "conflicted with another transaction with xxx confirmations. <more to follow>
    – Jim D
    Jan 7, 2018 at 21:01
  • I presume this resolved any chance of a double-spend or orphaned bitcoin per my original concern. I then went and sent to myself at a new wallet address my entire wallet balance to force all possible inputs originally used in that abandoned transaction to ground out into my wallet just in case it was being held in mempool pending other miners disposition. That seems to have forced the original transaction to be "Pruned" from the block chain since It can no longer find it using the online blockchain utility.
    – Jim D
    Jan 7, 2018 at 21:03
  • Had to pay a pretty steep price to get the darn thing to go out - nothing like taxing oneself two times... this blockchain architecture approach does not seem scalable - especially for smaller transactions getting clobbered with fees that are a huge percent of the actual principal amount trying to "Spend".
    – Jim D
    Jan 7, 2018 at 21:03
  • @JimD I think you have the right idea. Honestly spending your whole wallet balance back to yourself was probably unnecessary, once your original transaction has one (or more) of its inputs spent in another transaction, the original tx will become invalid. So you did not need to worry about the other inputs used in the original tx being held onto by some obscure node or miner. Unconfirmed transactions that are viewable on block explorer websites are not 'in the blockchain', that only happens once a miner confirms the tx into a block.
    – chytrik
    Jan 7, 2018 at 23:25

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