NFT Glossary Deep Dive: Non-Fungible

NTF Glossary Deep Dive: Non-Fungible

Ellen Britt for CNT #NFT

If you have read our glossary of terms related to NFTs, you may be wondering what the heck does “non-fungible” mean exactly? Well, we’ve got you covered with our series exploring in more depth all the terms listed in the glossary and more.

What Is Non-Fungible?

So, let’s get back to the meaning of non-fungible. First of all, to understand this, it helps to look at the word “fungible.” The word itself comes from the Latin verb “fungi” which means “to perform.” And no, it’s not related to the word “fungus” and to its plural form “fungi” in all their mushroomy goodness!

Fungible means something that is a good or an asset, let’s say a one-dollar bill for example, that can be exchanged or replaced by another identical item. So if I gave you a one-dollar bill in exchange for your one-dollar bill, both of us would still have the same amount of money because the dollar bills are fungible. They are not unique in that the value that underlies them is identical. They can be exchanged or replaced by another dollar bill of equal value.

The Mona Lisa Is Non-Fungible

It follows that if something is non-fungible, that mutual interchangeability would no longer be present. Something that is non-fungible is unique, non-interchangeable, and irreplaceable. For example, the original painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci hanging behind a plate of bulletproof glass in Paris’ Louvre Museum is non-fungible. The Mona Lisa is unique, non-interchangeable, and irreplaceable.

Sure, you can purchase a print of the Mona Lisa to hang in your home that looks for all the world like the original, but you can be sure you would be quickly escorted to jail if you tried to exchange your print of the Mona Lisa for the original because the painting in the Louvre is definitely non-fungible! On the other hand, if your neighbor down the street happened to purchase an identical print to the one you own, from the same company and at the same price, you could easily exchange prints with her if you wanted, as these prints are fungible. 

Got the difference? Good!

Now, what does all this mean when it comes to a non-fungible token? A non-fungible token, or NFT, is a digital piece of content that is permanently linked to the blockchain, the digital “ledger” that underlies cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum. Because its authenticity can be verified, and it is unique and not interchangeable, it becomes non-fungible.

We’ll be diving into more about NFTs and more terms related to this exploding and fascinating topic in days to come so stay tuned!

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By Ellen Britt

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