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“.

  • 1
    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, 2022 at 14:26
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    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, 2022 at 14:37
  • Has been nice 2:29 minutes on this part of the stackexchange universe 👋 Nov 9, 2022 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, 2022 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, 2022 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


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".

  • This is indeed a reasonable explanation, and it may well be that it is the correct one, but note that the OP has argued that this is not a duplicate of the question about short, on the ground that the latter 'simply assumes that “long“ is used, because it is the opposite of short—without any proof or explanation'. So it seems that the OP is hoping to see, either an alternative to that assumption, or some sort of a proof that will turn it into something more than an assumption.
    – jsw29
    Dec 10, 2022 at 22:17

OED: long

j. colloquial (originally U.S.). long on: well supplied with, having plenty of. Also in extended use: having great knowledge or command of (a subject, etc.). Compare sense A. 16, short on at short adj. 18h, short of at short adj. 18e.

1875 Rep. Commissioners Freedman's Savings & Trust Company 81 in U.S. Congress. Serial Set (43rd Congr., 2nd Sess.: House of Representatives Misc. Doc. 16) I He is long on his deposits and short on his cash.

1882 G. W. Peck Peck's Sunshine 48 Millions of Bibles were shipped to this country by the firm that was ‘long’ on Bibles.

  • This quotation may be relevant to answering this question, but it does not by itself constitute an answer of the kind that this site is intended to provide. (If looking the word up in a dictionary were sufficient, without any explanation, to answer the question, then the question should have been closed as inappropriate for this site.)
    – jsw29
    Dec 10, 2022 at 21:46

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