This is basically a follow-up question of: What is the origin of "long" and "short" in finance?

In finance, you can be long or short a position. While the usage of the word “short” in these situations makes sense to me (“You are short/lacking n shares of XYZ stock”), I struggle to find to an explanation for the choice of the counterpart: “long”.

In the cited question, the person asking the question said, they just assumed “that "short sale" came first, and "long" was just the natural opposite”. This is where my question comes in:

Does “(to be) long” have a (historic) meaning that explains the usage of the word or is it really just the opposite of “short”?

Edit: As this was marked a duplicate: The linked questions is—besides its title—only about the origin of “short”. As I already said, it simply assumes that “long“ is used, because it is the opposite of short—without any proof or explanation. I don't think it is good enough to simply assume the meaning of a word. Even the accepted answer only discusses the meaning/etymology of the word „short“.

  • Why would you simply close this question? The linked questions is only about „short“. This not being a duplicate question. I'd really like to know why it is considered being a duplicate. Nov 9 at 14:26
  • 3
    The mods are deathly afraid of questions on this site. That is why they are closed and marked as duplicate or off-topic with as much speed as humanly possible.
    – dubious
    Nov 9 at 14:37
  • Has been nice 2:29 minutes on this part of the stackexchange universe 👋 Nov 9 at 14:48
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    I think the suggested duplicate is mark as such because a decent amount of background material was surfaced, and there wasn't a conclusion on the use of long, despite the duplicate asking for it. Lacking any evidence and given the very common usage of long and short in various finance contexts, there may just not be a definitive resource.
    – jimm101
    Nov 9 at 14:56
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    @dubious- FYI, the question was not closed by a mod. It was closed unilaterally by a high-ranking user. (Not me, btw)
    – Jim
    Nov 9 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


I'm just speculating, but a common source of terms like this is by analogy. As you said, the origin of "short" seems obvious, it comes from "lacking".

Then when financiers needed a word for the opposite of a short position, they simply used the antonym of "short", which is "long".

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