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Trading Tips-Tim Sykes Penny Stock

30 Day Trading Terms Explained For Beginner Traders

Written by Tim-bot
Reviewed by Friedrich Odermann Fact-checked by Ed Weinberg
Updated 1/11/2024 18 min read

Understanding day trading requires not just knowledge of the stock market, but also familiarity with specific terms that shape every trade. As a seasoned trader and educator, I’ve seen many beginners struggle with the jargon. This guide is designed to demystify these terms, making them accessible to novice investors.

Readers should dive into this guide on day trading definitions because it demystifies complex trading terms and strategies, empowering beginners with essential knowledge for successful trading.

I’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is day trading?
  • How does day trading work?
  • What’s the main difference between day trading and other types of trading?
  • What are some basic day trading terms?
  • How do technical indicators like Moving Averages and RSI aid in day trading?
  • What are some effective day trading strategies?
  • How can one become a successful day trader?
  • What are key considerations in setting up a trading account and developing a trading strategy?

Let’s get to the content!

What Is Day Trading?

Day trading involves buying and selling stocks within the same trading day. Traders capitalize on short-term stock movements to earn profits. Unlike investors who may hold stocks for years, day traders see the value in the rapid fluctuations of the market. This process requires constant monitoring of stock performance and making quick decisions. My years of trading have shown that success in day trading hinges on understanding market trends and reacting swiftly.

How Does Day Trading Work?

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Day trading involves buying and selling financial instruments within the same trading day. Traders take advantage of small price movements in highly liquid assets, closing all positions before the market closes. This approach contrasts with longer-term investments, where the focus is on potential gains over months or years. Day traders rely on market volatility to make profits, often leveraging short-term trading strategies.

Day Trading vs. Other Types of Trading

The primary difference between day trading and other forms of trading lies in the time frame. Swing traders, for example, hold positions for several days or weeks, focusing on more significant market trends. In contrast, long-term investors place their bets on the overall growth of a company or the economy, often holding stocks for years. Day trading, with its focus on short-term market movements, requires a different mindset and strategy. It’s a high-intensity, high-engagement process that demands constant attention to market charts and company news.

Other Types of Trading

  • Swing Trading: Holding trades for several days to capitalize on expected upward or downward market shifts.
  • Position Trading: Long-term strategy, where traders hold positions for weeks, months, or even years.
  • Scalping: Quick, short-term trades, focusing on small market movements.
  • Forex Trading: Trading currencies on the foreign exchange market.
  • Options Trading: Trading contracts that give the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an asset.
  • Futures Trading: Contracts to buy or sell assets at a predetermined future date and price.
  • Commodity Trading: Buying and selling commodities like oil, gold, or agricultural products.

What’s the Main Difference Between Day Trading and Other Types of Trading?

The main difference is the holding period of trades. Day trading involves opening and closing positions within the same trading day, focusing on short-term price movements. In contrast, other forms of trading, like position or swing trading, involve holding assets for longer periods to benefit from broader market trends.

Basic Day Trading Terms

For beginner traders, grasping the essential terminology is a crucial step towards successful day trading. From understanding what a ‘long’ or ‘short’ position means, to knowing how margin works and why charts are indispensable, these terms form the backbone of daily trading activities.

As someone who has navigated the complexities of the stock market for years, I can attest to the importance of being fluent in this language. It empowers you to make informed decisions, manage risks effectively, and communicate with other traders and brokers with confidence.

Let’s dive into some of these key terms that you’ll encounter regularly in the world of day trading…


The bid is the highest price a buyer is willing to pay for a security. It’s crucial in day trading as it represents the demand side of the market. Traders must understand bid prices to make informed decisions when entering and exiting trades.

Ask or Offer

The ask (or offer) is the lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell a security. It’s a critical concept in day trading, reflecting the supply side of the market. The ask price is typically higher than the bid price, with the difference known as the spread.


Spread in day trading is the difference between the bid and ask price of a security. It’s a key indicator of liquidity and transaction costs. A narrower spread often indicates high liquidity and lower trading costs, important for day traders making frequent transactions.


Liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be bought or sold in the market without affecting its price. In day trading, high liquidity is crucial for entering and exiting positions quickly and at desired prices.


Volume measures the number of shares or contracts traded in a security or market during a given period. It’s a vital indicator of market activity and liquidity. High volume often suggests strong interest in a security, making it easier for day traders to execute trades.

Order Types

Understanding various order types is crucial for executing trades effectively and managing risk. Each order type serves a specific purpose, dictating how, when, and at what price your stock is bought or sold.

Market Order

A market order is an instruction to buy or sell a security immediately at the best available current price. It’s used by day traders for quick entry or exit from the market, prioritizing speed over price control.

Limit Order

A limit order specifies the maximum or minimum price at which you’re willing to buy or sell a security. It’s useful for day traders who want more control over their entry and exit prices.

Stop-Loss Order

A stop-loss order is set to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. It’s a crucial risk management tool for day traders, limiting potential losses on a position.

Stop-Limit Order

A stop-limit order combines the features of stop-loss and limit orders. It triggers a limit order when the stock reaches a specified stop price. It’s used by day traders for precise control over their trading, balancing risk and reward.

Technical Indicators

Technical indicators are vital tools in day trading, providing insights into market trends and potential price movements. These indicators, derived from statistical calculations based on historical trading data like price and volume, assist traders in making informed decisions.

Indicators like Moving Averages, RSI, and MACD provide valuable insights into market trends and potential price movements, aiding in making informed trading decisions. They are not just mathematical formulas but tools that, when used correctly, can be game-changers in identifying profitable trading opportunities. For a deeper dive into the world of day trading indicators and how to effectively utilize them, check out my guide on day trading indicators.

Moving Averages

Moving Averages smooth out price data to identify trends. They are foundational in technical analysis, helping day traders to discern the direction of market movement.

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

RSI is a momentum indicator that measures the speed and change of price movements. It helps day traders identify overbought or oversold conditions, aiding in timing their trades.

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are a volatility indicator. They consist of a middle band (a moving average) with two outer bands (standard deviations away from the moving average). These bands help traders assess market volatility and potential price breakouts.

Momentum Oscillator

The Momentum Oscillator is a tool that measures the rate of change in prices. It’s used by day traders to identify the strength or weakness of a trend, aiding in decision-making for entry and exit points.

MACD Indicator

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a trend-following momentum indicator. It shows the relationship between two moving averages of a security’s price. Day traders use it to spot trend direction and reversals.

Trading Strategies

Developing effective trading strategies is the cornerstone of successful day trading. Each strategy offers a unique approach to identifying profitable trading opportunities.

As an experienced trader, I’ve explored various strategies and learned that the key is not just in choosing a strategy, but in understanding how and when to apply it.

Range Trading Strategy

Range trading involves identifying and trading within a price range. Traders buy at support levels and sell at resistance levels. It’s effective in markets lacking a clear direction.

Swing Trading Strategy

Swing trading is about holding positions for several days to capitalize on expected directional shifts in the market. It’s a strategy used by traders who can’t monitor the market constantly.

Scalping Strategy

Scalping focuses on making numerous small profits on minor price changes throughout the day. It requires a strict exit strategy as one large loss could eliminate many small gains.

Scalping is not just about quick trades; it’s about precision, discipline, and the ability to make rapid decisions based on market movements. For traders interested in this high-frequency trading style, check out my in-depth look at day trading scalping, offering valuable insights and strategies for success.

Momentum Trading Strategy

Momentum traders look for securities moving significantly in one direction on high volume. They aim to ride the momentum to achieve gains and exit before it reverses.

Types of Trading

Developing a coherent trading strategy is vital for any day trader looking to navigate the stock market successfully. Trading strategies provide a framework for making informed decisions, helping to manage risk and capitalize on market opportunities.

Stock Trading

Stock trading involves buying and selling shares of publicly traded companies. It’s a popular form of trading, offering various strategies to suit different trading styles.

Day Trading

Day trading is the practice of buying and selling securities within the same trading day. Traders capitalize on short-term price movements and close all positions by day’s end.

Swing Trading

Swing trading involves holding positions for several days or weeks. Traders use this strategy to profit from short- to medium-term market moves.

Position Trading

Position trading is a long-term strategy where traders hold positions for extended periods, ranging from months to years, often based on fundamental analysis.


Scalping is a strategy where traders make numerous small trades throughout the day, profiting from minute price movements.

Forex Trading

Forex trading involves the simultaneous buying of one currency and selling of another. It’s a 24-hour market, offering significant liquidity and leverage opportunities.

Options Trading

Options trading involves contracts that give the right to buy or sell an asset at a set price before a certain date. It’s a versatile form of trading, offering various strategies.

Futures Trading

Futures trading is about buying and selling contracts that obligate the purchase or sale of an asset at a future date and price. It’s common in commodities, currencies, and indexes.

Commodity Trading

Commodity trading involves buying and selling raw or primary products. It includes energy resources, precious metals, and agricultural products.

Technical Analysis Terms

Technical analysis is a cornerstone of day trading, involving the study of past market data, primarily through charts, to forecast future price movements.

Support & Resistance

Support and resistance are key concepts in technical analysis. Support is a price level where a downtrend can pause due to a concentration of demand. Resistance is where an uptrend may pause or reverse due to a concentration of selling interest.

Moving Averages

Moving Averages are used to identify the direction of a trend, smoothing out price data. They are fundamental in day trading for making informed decisions on market entry and exit.

Candlestick Patterns

Candlestick patterns are a tool in technical analysis, reflecting market sentiments and potential price movements. They are essential for day traders to predict short-term market movements.

Chart patterns provide critical insights into market sentiment and potential price movements. They are the language of the market, telling stories of supply and demand, fear and greed. Understanding these patterns can significantly improve your ability to predict short-term market movements and make more informed trading decisions. To elevate your technical analysis skills, explore my detailed exploration of day trading chart patterns.

Miscellaneous Terms To Know About Day Trading

When diving into the world of day trading, it’s not just about knowing the stock market; it’s also about understanding the language that swirls around it. This includes a myriad of miscellaneous terms that form a critical part of the day trading vocabulary. From the amount of money you’re willing to risk to the way you allocate your funds, each term carries weight. Knowing these terms is an essential part of becoming proficient in the day trading arena. Brokers, for instance, play a significant role, and understanding the services and tools they offer is key. Additionally, terms that describe market movements or strategies might initially seem daunting, but they become integral once you start actively trading. As a seasoned trader, I’ve learned the importance of each of these terms and how they play a part in crafting successful trading strategies.

How To Become a Day Trader

Becoming a day trader is a journey that involves more than just the decision to start trading stocks. It begins with a solid understanding of the financial commitment involved – the amount of money you can allocate as your trading funds. Additionally, it’s crucial to choose the right brokers who provide the tools and platforms conducive to day trading. A significant part of this process is education. Understanding the definitions and concepts of trading, along with continuous learning about market trends and strategies, is essential. As someone who’s navigated these waters, I emphasize the importance of practical experience. Starting small, understanding your risk tolerance, and gradually increasing your trading size as you gain more confidence and skill are steps every aspiring day trader should take. Remember, day trading is not just a hobby; it’s a serious business that requires commitment, discipline, and a willingness to learn continuously.

Setting Up a Trading Account

To start day trading, you need a brokerage account. Choose a broker that offers low transaction fees, robust trading tools, and strong customer support. Make sure the broker fits your trading style and strategy.

Choosing the Right Trading Platform

Select a trading platform that provides real-time market data, advanced charting tools, and quick execution capabilities. The right platform can significantly impact your trading efficiency and success.

When it comes to trading platforms, StocksToTrade is first on my list. It’s a powerful day and swing trading platform that integrates with most major brokers. I helped to design it, which means it has all the trading indicators, news sources, and stock screening capabilities that traders like me look for in a platform.

I use StocksToTrade to scan for news, tweets, earning reports, and more — all covered in its powerful news scanner. It has the trading indicators, dynamic charts, and stock screening capabilities that traders like me look for in a platform. It also has a selection of add-on alerts services, so you can stay ahead of the curve.

Grab your 14-day StocksToTrade trial today — it’s only $7!

Developing a Trading Strategy

Your trading strategy should align with your risk tolerance, capital, and trading goals. Experiment with different strategies like scalping, swing trading, or momentum trading to find what works best for you.

Risk Management in Day Trading

Effective risk management is crucial. Always set stop-loss orders to limit potential losses. Diversify your trades and never risk more than a small percentage of your capital on a single trade.

Building a Trading Plan

A trading plan should outline your goals, risk tolerance, strategy, and criteria for entering and exiting trades. Stick to your plan to maintain discipline and avoid emotional trading.

Learning Technical Analysis

Technical analysis is vital for day traders. Understand and utilize tools like chart patterns, technical indicators, and price action to make informed trading decisions.

Key Takeaways

  • Day trading is distinct from other forms of trading in its focus on short-term market movements.
  • Understanding basic terms like ‘long position’, ‘short position’, ‘margin’, and ‘charts’ is crucial.
  • The choice of broker and the size of trades are key considerations in day trading.
  • Success in day trading requires a blend of quick decision-making, thorough market analysis, and effective risk management.

From my 20+ years of experience, I’ve learned that day trading can be both challenging and rewarding. It demands a unique combination of skills, discipline, and knowledge. By understanding these fundamental terms and concepts, you’re laying a solid foundation for your day trading journey.

Trading isn’t rocket science. It’s a skill you build and work on like any other. Trading has changed my life, and I think this way of life should be open to more people…

I’ve built my Trading Challenge to pass on the things I had to learn for myself. It’s the kind of community that I wish I had when I was starting out.

We don’t accept everyone. If you’re up for the challenge — I want to hear from you.

Apply to the Trading Challenge here.

Trading is a battlefield. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

Are there any terms that are still stumping you? Let me know in the comments — I love hearing from my readers!


How Does a Day Trader Get Started?

Start by educating yourself about the markets and trading principles. Set up a brokerage account, choose a suitable trading platform, and begin with a well-defined trading strategy.

Who Makes a Living by Day Trading?

Individuals who are disciplined, knowledgeable, and have a well-thought-out strategy can make a living by day trading. Continuous learning and risk management are key.

Should I Start Day Trading?

Consider your financial situation, risk tolerance, and commitment to learning. Day trading requires time, effort, and emotional discipline. Start with a demo account to test your skills before risking real capital.

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Author card Timothy Sykes picture

Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”