I couldn't find this finance meaning on OED or Merriam-Webster, probably for it's too newfangled? Recently SoftBank has been blazoned as the NASDAQ Whale.

I'm not convinced by the explanation in the first quote below, for while whales can splash, their splashes aren't huge in the context of the hugeness of oceans. A whale's splash affects the ocean far less than a financial whale can affect a stock market.

Understanding Whales, Bulls & Bears | by Stably | Stable Trade | Medium


A whale is any individual or company who has enough money and power to directly influence the price of a cryptocurrency or stock, usually in a negative way. Think of a whale and their large mass. They can make huge splashes and the same concept can be applied to crypto/financial markets.

Investing 101: What are whales and how do you profit from them? — Steemit

whales has become a term associated with market manipulators. Market manipulators will come into a market, buy a majority of the available positions or limit orders and drive up the price. Once the price has reached their target price, they will attempt to liquidate their position, albeit a large position which may take some time. Generally, this will cause the price to crash back down to it's inherently acceptable level.

2 Answers 2


Apparently a term borrowed from casino gamblers, that is traders with a large amount of capital to invest. The idea is that of large investors (whales) vs smaller financial entities.


See, for instance, bitcoin whales:

Individuals or entities with large amount of bitcoin.



The term "whale," that newfangled aquatic neighbor that plays well with both its fellow mammals——the bear and the bull——appears to be borrowed from its use in online multiplayer gaming communities.

In online gaming, "whale" designates a player who spends a far-above-average amount on microtransactions to give them an advantage over free-to-play or casual pay-to-play gamers.

Anecdotally, I have also seen "whale" applied to gamers who grind (i.e., complete repetitive tasks for rewards) at length to gain exceptional perks for their own account or character that are far beyond the reach of casual and even frequent players.

Doubtless the etymology could reach farther back than that, although I have a hard time imagining its relevance in a Casino since the house almost always wins.

Example of "whale" in gaming from Mar 2013 Venture Beat article: https://venturebeat.com/2013/03/14/whales-and-why-social-gamers-are-just-gamers/

Example of "whale" from Oct 2017 Eurogamer article: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-10-20-interview-with-the-whale

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