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IntraDay Options Trading Education

Options Trading Glossary


Ask price: The lowest price a seller is willing to accept (also called the “offer price”).

Asset: A resource that has economic value to its owner. Cash, accounts receivable, inventory, real estate, and securities are examples of assets.

Assignment: The receipt of an exercise notice by an option seller (writer) that obligates him or her to sell (in the case of a call) or purchase (in the case of a put) the underlying security at the specified strike price.

At-the-market order (also “market order”): An order to purchase or sell at the best available price. At-the-market orders must be executed immediately, and therefore take precedence over all other orders.

At the money: An option is “at the money” if its strike price is equal to the market price of the underlying security.

Automatic exercise: A protection procedure whereby the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) attempts to protect the holder of an expiring in-the-money option on behalf of the trader by automatically exercising the option.

Average True Range Calculation: The prime component of the ATR formula is the True Range (TR) value. The TR (Current TR) s the greatest of the following:

  • Current high minus current low
  • Current high minus previous (yesterday’s) close
  • Current low minus previous (yesterday’s) close



Bearish: An outlook that anticipates lower prices for a security.

Bearish credit spread: An option strategy implemented by selling a lower-strike call and purchasing a higher-strike call. This results in a net credit to the investor’s account. 

Bearish debit spread: An option strategy implemented by selling a lower-strike put and purchasing a higher-strike put. This results in a net debit to the investor’s account. 

Beta: A measure of how a stock moves more or less than the movement of a broader market index.

Bid price: The highest price a buyer is willing to pay for a security.

Bid/Ask quote: The latest available bid and asked prices for a particular option.

Bid/Ask spread: The difference in price between the latest available bid and asked quotations for a particular option.

Breakeven point: The stock price at which a particular option strategy has neither a gain nor a loss.

Bullish: An outlook that anticipates higher prices for a security.

Bullish credit spread: An option strategy implemented by selling a higher-strike put and purchasing a lower-strike put. This results in a net credit to the investor’s account. The maximum profit is achieved as long as the sold put stays out of the money by expiration.

Bullish debit spread: An option strategy implemented by selling a higher-strike call and purchasing a lower-strike call. This results in a net debit to the investor’s account. 

Butterfly spread: A long butterfly spread is established by buying an in-the-money option, selling two at-the-money options, and buying an out-of-the-money option. 


Calendar spread: The sale of an option with a nearby expiration and the purchase of an option with the same strike price, but a more distant expiration. 

Call: An option contract that gives the buyer (or holder) the right to purchase, and gives the seller (or writer) the obligation to sell, a specified number of shares (typically 100) of the underlying stock at a given strike price on or before the expiration date of the contract.

Called away: The process by which a call option writer is obligated to surrender the underlying stock to the option buyer at a price equal to the strike price of the written call. 

Call ratio spread: a multi-leg, neutral strategy with undefined risk and limited profit potential. It hopes to take advantage of little or no movement from the underlying asset, time decay, and a drop in volatility.

Cash settlement option: An option that is exercised by a cash payment rather than the delivery of the underlying security. The amount of cash settlement is determined by the difference between the option’s strike price and the price of the underlying security. Stock index and industry group options are cash settled.

Candlestick Charts: used by traders to determine possible price movement based on past patterns.

Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE): The CBOE is one of the U.S. options exchanges. In 1973, the CBOE created “listed options” that became the standard, and option prices were set in an auction market nearly identical to the stock exchanges.

Class of options: Options contracts of the same type (call or put) and style (American, European, or capped) on the same underlying security.

Clearinghouse: An agency associated with an exchange that guarantees all trades, thus assuring contract delivery and/or financial settlement. The clearinghouse becomes the buyer for every seller and the seller for every buyer. The clearing house for listed equity options is the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).

Closeout date: The predetermined date an options trader chooses to close a position if it hasn’t achieved its target profit. 

Closing price: The price of a stock or option at the last transaction of the day.

Closing purchase (buy to close): A transaction where an investor who initially sold an option intends to liquidate his or her written position by buying an option with the same terms as the one he or she wrote. 

Closing sale (sell to close): A transaction where an investor who initially bought an option intends to liquidate his or her purchased position by selling an option with the same terms as the one he or she purchased. 

Collar: A collar is an options strategy that involves the purchase of a put option and the sale of a call option on the same pre-owned underlying stock. The call and put do not have the same strike price (the call is always at a higher strike than the put), nor must they necessarily have the same expiration date.

Commission: One of the costs associated with trading. This is a fee paid to a brokerage firm when entering or exiting a position. Commissions vary widely.

Contingency order: A type of order that specifies some parameters that must be met before an order is filled. 

Contract: A call or put option issued by the Options Clearing Corporation.

Contract size: The number of shares of the underlying asset covered by an options contract. This size is usually 100 shares for one stock option contract unless otherwise adjusted for a special event (such as a stock split or stock dividend).

Cover: Indicates the repurchase of previously sold contracts or shares, known as “covering” a short position. 

Covered call writing: A short option position where the seller (writer) owns the number of shares of underlying stock represented by the sold options. 

Credit spread: See “bearish credit spread” or “bullish credit spread”


Day order: An order that automatically expires at the end of the session if not executed during the day it’s entered. All orders are assumed to be day orders unless otherwise specified.

Day trader: Stock or options traders (often active on the trading floor) who usually initiate and offset a position during the same trading session.

Debit spread: See “bearish debit spread” or “bullish debit spread.”

Delta: The percentage of price movement in the underlying stock that will be translated into the price movement in a particular option. For example, a delta of 50 percent indicates that the option will move up (or down) by one-half point for each one-point rise (or decline) in the underlying stock. 

Delta hedging: The process of buying an increasing quantity of stock as it moves closer to the money relative to a sold call position in order to remain delta neutral. Like short covering, this can result in delta hedging rallies that drive a stock price higher.

Derivative security: A financial security whose value is derived in part from the value and characteristics of another security (also known as the “underlying security”). Options are derivative securities.

Diagonal spread: A strategy that utilizes options with different strike prices and expiration dates.

Divergence: The price of an asset is moving in the opposite direction of a technical indicator, such as momentum, or is moving contrary to other data. Divergence warns that the current price trend may be weakening, and in some cases may lead to the price changing direction.

Diversification: An investing or trading strategy that maintains positions in a variety of underlying stocks or stock options for the purpose of reducing risk and increasing bottom-line profits.

Double top: A double top is a technical formation in which a stock makes two sets of significant highs at a similar price level. Double tops are used for forecasting potential downside risk until their highs are taken out. Once that occurs, all downside forecasts are negated and significant rallies can follow with overhead resistance no longer in place.

Downtrend: A process of successive downward price movements in a security over time.


Early Market on Close Imbalance: A market-on-close imbalance occurs when there are a larger number of market-on-close orders on the buy or sell side. If a trader wants to execute a MOC past the 15:50 deadline, they must enter an order opposite the imbalance. For instance, if stock A has a buy imbalance then only a sell MOC will be accepted.

European-style option: An option contract that can be exercised only during a specified period just prior to the expiration date.

Exchange: An association of people who participate in the business of buying or selling securities. Also a forum or place where traders (members) gather to buy or sell economic goods.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): ETFs are investments that contain a pool of securities representing a specific index such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500. Essentially, ETFs are built like mutual funds but trade like stocks. They are priced continually and can be bought or sold throughout the trading day.

Execution: The actual completion of a buy or sell order on the exchange floor.

Exercise: The process by which an option holder/owner invokes the terms of the option contract. To exercise, call owners will buy the underlying stock, while put owners will sell the underlying stock under the terms set by the option contract. Option sellers must be aware of this exercise risk when the option they sold goes deep into the money, and they must make sure they have the capital available to cover any such potential exercise.

Exercise price: See “strike price.”

Expiration calendar: A calendar showing when various option classes cease trading and/or expire.

Expiration cycle: A cycle related to the dates on which options on a particular underlying security expire. Stock options, other than LEAPS and long-term options, will be placed in one of three cycles: the January cycle (with options listed in the January, April, July, or October cycle months); the February cycle (with options listed in the February, May, August, or November cycle months); or the March cycle (with options listed in the March, June, September, or December cycle months). At any point in time, an option will have contracts with four expiration dates outstanding – in the nearest two expiration months and in two longer-term cycle months.

Expiration date: The date on which an option and the right to exercise it expire. For equity options, this is the Saturday following the third Friday of the month.

Expiration Friday: The last trading day prior to an option’s expiration date that an option may be purchased or sold. This is typically the third Friday of the month for equity options. If Friday is an exchange holiday, the final trading day will be the preceding Thursday.

Extrinsic Value: Extrinsic value measures the difference between the market price of an option, called the premium, and its intrinsic value. Extrinsic value is also the portion of the worth that has been assigned to an option by factors other than the underlying asset’s price.


Fill: The price at which an order is executed.

Fill or kill order: A trading order that is canceled unless executed within a designated time period.

Flat price risk: Taking a position either long or short that doesn’t involve spreading.

Float: The number of shares of a particular security available for public trading.

Foreign currency option: An option that conveys the right to buy or sell a specified amount of foreign currency at a specified price within a specified period of time.

Forward price: The price at which a security is expected to be trading at a defined point in the future, as a function of the expected interest rate environment during that time period.

Free market price: The price established by buyers and sellers in the free market, with no restrictions placed on market participants. This price is a function of the level of demand versus the level of supply in the market at any time.

Full fungibility: A right of option ownership in which an option buyer is free to sell his or her contract at any time on an options exchange, up to and including its expiration date.

Fundamental analysis: The study of specific factors, such as price-to-earnings ratios, earnings history, volume, and market capitalization that influence supply and demand and (consequently) prices in the marketplace.

Fundamental beta: The product of a statistical model to predict the fundamental risk of a security using price data and other market-related and financial data.


Gamma: The unit change in the delta of an option for each point change in the price of the underlying stock or index. For example, assume stock XYZ is at 60 and its 55-strike call option has a gamma of 0.05 and a delta of 75. If the stock moves to 61, the new delta will be 80.

Gap: A term used by technicians to describe an opening price that is substantially higher or lower than the previous day’s closing price. Significant gaps are usually related to market-moving news that occurs overnight while a stock cannot be traded.

Good-til-cancelled (GTC): A qualifier for any kind of order extending its life indefinitely until it is either filled or cancelled.


Handle: The whole-dollar price of a bid or offer. In other words, if a security is quoted at a bid of 101.10 and an offer of 101.11, the handle is 101. Traders are assumed to know the handle.

Hedge: A conservative strategy used to limit investment loss (or risk) by implementing a transaction that offsets an existing position.

Hedge fund: A fund that may employ a variety of techniques to enhance returns, such as both buying and shorting stocks based on a valuation mode.

Hedged portfolio: A portfolio consisting of the long position in the stock, and the short position in the call option and long position in the put option, so as to be riskless and produce a return that equals the risk-free interest rate.

Historical volatility: A statistical measurement of a stock’s past price movement over a specific time period.

Holder: The buyer or owner of an option.

Horizontal spread: The simultaneous purchase and sale of two options that differ only in their expiration date.


Implied volatility: The assumption of the stock’s volatility that helps determine the option’s price. Since all other factors in the options pricing model are assumed to be known, the implied volatility is calculated last as a plug-in factor after other options pricing components are taken into account.

In the money: An option is “in the money” when it has intrinsic value. A call is in the money when the market price of the underlying stock is greater than the option’s strike price. A put is in the money when the market price of the underlying stock is lower than the option’s strike price.

Index: A statistical compilation of several stocks that are related in some manner into one number. The S&P 500 Index is the most well known index.

Index fund: An investment fund designed to match the returns on a stock market index.

Index option: An option whose underlying security is a stock index. This includes options on the overall market (such as the S&P 100 Index) as well as options on narrower-based industry groups. Index options are usually cash settled.

Initial public offering (IPO): A company’s first sale of stock to the public. Securities offered in an IPO are often, but not always, those of young, small companies seeking outside equity capital and a public market for their stock. Investors purchasing stock in IPOs generally must be prepared to accept very large risks for the possibility of large gains.

Institutional investors: Organizations that invest, including insurance companies, depository institutions, pension funds, investment companies, mutual funds, and endowment funds.

Internet broker: A broker offering online trading. Commission rates are typically very competitive, in-line with deep discount brokers.

Intrinsic value: The difference between an in the money option’s strike price and the current market price of the underlying security.


Lambda: The ratio of change in option price relative to a small change in option volatility.

Last sale price: The price of a stock or option at the most recent transaction.

Last trading day: The final day under an exchange’s rules during which trading may take place in a particular options contract. Contracts outstanding at the end of the last trading day must be settled by delivery of the underlying financial instrument.

Leverage: The control of a larger number of shares with a smaller amount of capital. A major benefit of options, leverage provides options buyers with greater profit potential using fewer dollars compared to holding a long or short stock position. Thus, a 10-percent move in a stock can be leveraged into a 100-percent or more gain using an option.

Limit orders: A customer sets a limit on price or time of execution of a trade (or both). For example, a “buy limit” order is placed below the market price. A “sell limit” order is placed above the market price. A sell limit is executed only at the limit price or higher (better), while the buy limit is executed at the limit price or lower (better).

Limited risk: A concept often used to describe the option buyer’s position. Because the buyer’s loss can be no greater than the premium he or she pays for the option, his or her risk is limited.

Liquid or liquidity: The ease with which a purchase or sale can be made without disrupting existing market prices. This is typically characterized by high volume and narrower bid/ask spreads.

Listed options: Options traded on one or more of the options exchanges. Unlike over the counter or unlisted options, which must be exercised to have any value, listed options are fully fungible and have an active secondary market on the options exchanges. Most traders in listed options close their positions in this secondary market prior to exercise.

Long position: A position where a person’s interest in a particular series of options is as a net holder (i.e., the number of contracts bought exceeds the number of contracts sold). Also, an investor is “long” when he or she takes ownership of a stock in the anticipation that it will appreciate in value.


Margin call: A call from the clearinghouse to a clearing member (variation margin call), or from a broker to a customer (maintenance margin call) to add funds to their margin account to cover an adverse price movement. The added margin assures the brokerage firm and the clearinghouse that the customer can purchase or deliver the entire contract or security, if necessary.

Margin requirement (for options): The amount an uncovered (naked) option seller (writer) is required to deposit and maintain to cover his or her daily position valuation and reasonably foreseeable intraday price changes.

Market maker: Those who maintain the best bid and ask prices on the trading floor of the options exchanges. Market makers can compete with each other on the same underlying security’s option pricing to provide the best bid and asked prices at any time.

Market Maker Move: measures the expected magnitude of price movement based on market volatility. We arrive at this calculation using stock price, volatility differential, and time to expiration.

Market order: An order to buy or sell a security as soon as possible at the best available price. Time is of primary importance. See “at-the-market order.”

Market timing: The process of buying and selling securities based on indicators that predict meaningful swings in the price of the market or individual securities, targeting better results than the “buy and hold” approach.

Married Put: The simultaneous purchase of stock and puts that represent an equivalent number of shares. This is a hedging strategy as the put compensates for losses in the stock.

Maturity date: See “expiration date.”

Momentum: The inertia of a price trend to continue either rising or falling for a particular length of time, usually taking into account both price and volume information.

Money market fund: A mutual fund that invests only in short-term securities, such as bankers’ acceptances, commercial paper, repurchase agreements, and government bills. The net asset value per share is maintained at $1.00. Such funds are not federally insured, although the portfolio may consist of guaranteed securities and/or the fund may have private insurance protection.

Moving average: An average of prices over a specified time period (minutes, days, weeks, months, etc.). As a new price is added, the oldest price is dropped to recalculate the average. A three-day moving average, for example, is calculated by averaging the first three days of prices (days one, two, and three). On the following day, the average is calculated using days two, three, and four. Moving averages are used by technicians to spot changes in trends.

Multiply listed options: Options on the same underlying security that are traded on more than one options exchange.

Mutual fund inflows/outflows: A measure of the amount of money investors put into or take out of mutual funds during a given time period. Schaeffer’s uses such flows to gauge sentiment on sectors or the overall market.


Naked call writing: See “uncovered call options.”

Naked put writing: See “uncovered put options.”

NAV Effect: Asset growth in a particular mutual fund that’s attributed to a change in the net asset value (NAV) of the fund. These changes have nothing to do with mutual fund inflows or redemption and, therefore, cannot be attributed to investor sentiment with any degree of certainty.

Neutral spread: An option spread created to profit from little net price movement of the underlying stock in either direction. Neutral spreads are most often calendar spreads. See also “option spread” and “calendar spread.”

No-load mutual fund: An open-end investment company whose shares are sold without a sales charge. There can be other distribution charges, however, such as 12b-1 fees. A true “no load” fund will have no sales charges or distribution fees.

Nominal price (or “nominal quotation”): The price quotation calculated for futures or options for a period during which no actual trading occurred. These quotations are usually calculated by averaging the bid and ask prices.


Offering price: The lowest price a potential seller is willing to accept for a particular option. (See also “asked price”).

On the money: See “at the money.”

Open interest: The number of outstanding options contracts on a given series for a particular underlying stock.

Open Interest Configuration: The number of outstanding contracts (or open interest) at all strikes for a given underlying security.

Opening price: The price of a stock or option at the first transaction of the day.

Opening purchase (buy to open): A transaction where an investor becomes the holder of an option. This transaction adds to the investor’s long position and increases open interest on that option.

Opening sale (sell to open): A transaction where an investor becomes the writer of an option. This transaction adds to the investor’s short position and increases open interest on that option.

Opportunity cost: A factor in the pricing of an option, as a function of the prevailing level of interest rates.

Option: A contract that entitles the holder to buy or sell a number of shares (usually 100) of a particular common stock at a predetermined price (see “strike price”) on or before a fixed date (see “expiration date”).

Option pricing model: The conventional method to assess option prices. This model incorporates six factors into its pricing assumptions: the underlying security price, the strike price, the time until expiration, any dividends to be paid, the level of interest rates, and the volatility of the stock. This model assumes that stock price movement is random with no directional bias except for a slight upward bias related to carrying costs equal to the interest rate.

Option spread: A position that results from two different options on the same security. (See also “bullish/bearish credit spread,” “bullish/bearish debit spread,” and “neutral spread”).

Option writing: Selling options in an opening transaction. (See also “covered call writing” and “uncovered call/put options”).

Options Clearing Corporation (OCC): Founded in 1973, the OCC is the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization. OCC clears transactions for put and call options on common stocks and other equity issues, stock indexes, foreign currencies, interest rate composites, and single-stock futures. The OCC also offers clearing and settlement services for transactions in futures and options on futures. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, OCC is jointly owned by the American Stock Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange, International Securities Exchange, Pacific Exchange, and Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

Option contract: A contract that, in exchange for the option price, gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy (or sell) a financial asset at the exercise price within a specified time period, or on a specified date (expiration date).

Option price: Also called the option premium. This is the price paid by the buyer of an option contract for the right to buy or sell a security at a specified price in the future.

Options specialized broker: A broker that focuses on options trading and strategies.

Order: An instruction to purchase or sell an option, first transmitted to a broker office and then submitted to the exchange floor for execution.

Oscillators: Indicators of the movement of a stock’s price relative to an assumed cycle of highs and lows.

Out of the money: An option that has no intrinsic value. A call option is “out of the money” if the strike price is greater than the market price of the underlying security. A put option is out of the money if the strike price is less than the market price of the underlying security.

Overbought/oversold: A condition where a stock has reached the top of its cycle (overbought) and is now likely to turn down, or has declined to the point where the selling is exhausted (oversold) and buyers will likely step in to push the share price higher.


Position: Established when an investor makes an opening purchase or sale of an option, or establishes an option spread.

Premium: The price of an option contract, determined in the competitive marketplace, that the buyer (holder) of the option pays to the option seller (writer) for the rights conveyed by the contract.

Put: An option contract that gives the buyer (or holder) the right to sell, and gives the seller (or writer) the obligation to buy, a specified number of shares (typically 100) of the underlying stock at a given strike price on or before the expiration date of the contract.

Put ratio backspread: A directional trade with a hedging component that allows a trader to book a small profit or break even in the event that the trade moves against them. The risk is limited while the reward is unlimited. Put ratio backspreads involve selling a near-the-money put (illustrated by a higher strike price) while purchasing two or more out-of-the-money puts. 

Put ratio spread: a multi-leg, neutral strategy with undefined risk and limited profit potential. It hopes to take advantage of little or no movement from the underlying asset, time decay, and a drop in volatility.

Put Writing (or “Put Selling”): A strategy that involves selling a put, which places upon the seller the obligation to buy the shares at the strike price if the put is exercised. Put writers typically sell puts below the market, as an effort to either acquire a stock at a price below current market prices or get paid while they wait by pocketing the option premium should the put expire worthless. 

Put/call ratio: The number of puts traded each day divided by the number of calls traded each day, or the amount of put open interest divided by the amount of call open interest. Such ratios are calculated on individual stocks, indices, or the overall market. Near market lows, the put/call ratio will rise as options traders become excessively worried about downside risk and seek to hedge their portfolios with puts, or speculate on further downside activity. Near market peaks, interest in calls heats up to form a low put/call ratio. The put/call ratio is thus a contrary indicator when it reaches extreme highs or lows.


Ratio backspread: See “call ratio backspread” or “put ratio backspread.”

Regression channels: A best-fit trendline through a given set of data points for a stock, with upper and lower channels that seek to contain the bulk of the price action in that stock’s trend. Schaeffer’s Investment Research seeks to find accelerations outside of these regression channels in order to leverage such accelerations with options purchases.

Relative Strength Index (RSI): Developed by Welles Wilder, RSI is one of the most popular oscillators used by traders to measure the oversold or overbought nature of a security. Values will range from zero to 100 depending on how much up movement occurs relative to down movement. An indicator reading approaching zero denotes an oversold condition while a reading approaching 100 denotes an overbought condition. Traditionally, values under 20 and over 80 mark the starting points for the zones where oversold and overbought conditions begin to be felt. When stocks approach these zones, there is an increasing likelihood of a reversal in the trend.

Resistance: A stock that tends to find significant selling pressure at a certain price level is said to have overhead resistance at that level. Technical indicators such as moving averages can also provide resistance as downtrending stocks rally up to these trendlines and spark new sellers at such resistance points.

Return if called: The percentage gain that a covered writer would achieve if the underlying stock is called away (see called away). The components of this return are the original option premium plus any dividends plus any appreciation by the stock to the strike price. This is the maximum return achievable by a covered writer (see “Covered call writing”).

Rho: The sensitivity of an option to a change in interest rates. Normally, this is expressed for a one percentage-point change in interest rates.

Rolling out: Substituting an option of the same class and strike price with one of a later expiration.

Rolling up: Substituting a call option of the same class and expiration with one of a higher strike price (or a lower strike price in the case of rolling down a put).


Sell to close: See “closing sale.”

Sell to open: See “opening sale.”

Sentiment: The sum total of all bullish and bearish outlooks among all market participants on a particular stock, index, or the market.

Series: All option contracts of the same class that have the same unit of trade, expiration date, and exercise price.

Short interest: The number of shares of a particular stock that bearish traders and investors have sold short. Shorting is a strategy that benefits from a stock’s decline by selling borrowed shares in the open market and then buying those shares back later at a lower price. Short interest signals potential future buying power, as the shares must eventually be repurchased.

Short-interest ratio: One of the oldest and most popular measures of market sentiment, the short-interest ratio represents the number of days it would take to cover all existing short positions at the stock’s average daily trading volume for the previous month.. The ratio is derived from the action of investors who have borrowed stock and “sold it short” – betting on a future decline that will enable them to buy the shares back at a lower price for repayment to the lender. As an indicator, short interest shows the degree of negative sentiment among investors for a particular stock.

Short position: A position where one’s interest in a particular series of options is as a net seller or writer (i.e., the number of contracts sold exceeds the number of contracts bought). Also, an investor is “short” when they sell a stock that they don’t own in the anticipation that it will decline in value.

Short seller: An individual who is betting on a decline in a stock’s price by selling it short. In such cases, the individual borrows the stock first (usually from a brokerage firm) in order to sell it. The goal is to buy the security back at a lower price at a later date in order to collect a profit relative to the higher initial selling price.

Short squeeze: This occurs when short sellers start to feel pressure from a rising stock, which causes increasing losses as the stock price moves higher. This “squeeze” places pressure on the shorts by forcing them to buy back their bearish positions in order to limit losses. Short squeezes often result in dramatic price gains over relatively small periods of time due to this spike of buying pressure.

Short-life option: An option contract having from several weeks to a few months until expiration.

Slippage: A cost to investors that results from buying at the higher asked price and selling at the lower bid price.

SPDR (“Spyders”): Standard & Poor’s Depositary Receipts (SPY) are instruments that trade like a stock and allow investors to mirror the performance of the S&P 500 Index (SPX). SPY are approximately 1/10th the value of the SPX. If the SPX is at 1200, for example, SPY will trade at 120.

Specialist: One or more exchange members whose function is to maintain a fair and orderly market in a given stock or a given class of options. This is accomplished by making bids and offers for /their own account in the absence of opposite market side orders.

Spread: A position consisting of two parts, each of which alone would profit from opposite directional price moves. These parts are executed simultaneously to limiting risk. See “Bullish/Bearish Credit Spread” or “Bullish/Bearish Debit Spread.”

S&P 100 Index (OEX): This is a capitalization-weighted index that measures the overall change in the stock values of 100 of the largest U.S. companies. The S&P 100 companies are drawn from a variety of industry groups.

S&P 500 Index (SPX): This is a capitalization-weighted index that measures the overall change in the stock values of 500 of the largest U.S. companies. The S&P 500 companies are drawn from a variety of industry groups.

Stock or equity option: A contract to buy or sell a stock at a predetermined price (strike price) on or before a fixed date (expiration date).

Stock split: The creation of a lower share price with additional shares of stock. In a 2-for-1 stock split, 100 shares at a pre-split price of 80 will become 200 shares at a price of 40 after the split. While stock splits don’t change the value of the stock alone, investors tend to like companies that split their stock since they tend to be growth-oriented firms whose share prices have done well historically.

Stop Hunt: Stop hunting is a strategy that attempts to force some market participants out of their positions by driving the price of an asset to a level where many individuals have chosen to set stop-loss orders. 

Stop-loss: A price threshold that triggers the exit of a position when reached. Many stock traders will place a stop loss about eight or 10 percent below the initial price paid, while options traders often need a wider stop-loss threshold of 25 or even 50 percent to account for the more volatile fluctuations in the options market. A stop-loss order can be placed in the market in advance of that level being reached or it can be monitored by a trader as a mental stop-loss level.

Stop-limit: A contingency order that can be placed to trigger an entry or exit if a stock trades at a certain price. If a stock is at 100, a stop-limit order to buy if the stock reaches 101 requires entering the trade at 101 and no higher. This approach can work well as an entry signal on breakouts – knowing what price you will receive if you enter the position. It is not recommended for exit orders, however, as a stock could drop below your stop-limit price and never allow you to exit if it keeps plunging.

Straddle: The purchase or sale of an equivalent number of puts and calls on a given underlying stock with the same exercise prices and expiration dates. The straddle purchaser seeks to profit from relatively large movements in the price of the underlying stock, regardless of direction.

Strangle: The purchase or sale of an equivalent number of puts and calls on a given underlying stock with the same expiration date but different strike prices. The strangle purchaser seeks to profit from relatively large movements in the price of the underlying stock, regardless of direction.

Strike price: The stated price per share for which the underlying stock may be purchased (in the case of a call) or sold (in the case of a put) by the option buyer (holder) upon exercise of the option contract.

Support: A stock that tends to find good buying interest at a certain price level is said to have good support at that price level. Technical indicators such as moving averages can also provide support as stocks pull back to these trendlines and spark new buyers at such support points.

Systematic risk: The risk inherent in the general market due to broad macroeconomic factors that affect all companies in the market. Also known as market risk.


Target exit point: The predetermined price at which options holdings would be sold at a lucrative, yet achievable profit. This is a key component of The Option Advisor’s overall money management strategy.

Technical analysis: An examination of moving averages, standard deviation bands, and other price and volume indicators to identify stocks in trending situations or in trading ranges and to predict future stock prices.

Theoretical value: an estimate of what an option should be worth using all known inputs.

Theta: This represents the loss in value an option will experience due to the passage of time. As a quantification of time decay, theta is usually expressed on a per day basis. For example, if an option has a theta of minus 0.25, it will lose about 25 cents per day provided that the underlying stock price and volatility hold constant.

Tick: Each trade in a security can be considered a tick. A tick that is higher than the previous one is considered an “uptick.” A tick that is lower than the previous one is called a “downtick.”

Time decay: The nonlinear loss of value in an option over time when all other factors are constant. Time decay is quantified by theta.

Time stop: Closing a position if it hasn’t moved in your favor within a predetermined period of time. A time stop is especially useful for option traders, as an option position can lose value even though the underlying stock has not moved. A time stop seeks to minimize this risk if the position is not moving in your favor fairly quickly.

Time value: The difference between the total cost of an option premium and its intrinsic value. Out-of-the-money options consist solely of time value.

Trading capital: The portion of an investor’s overall investment portfolio dedicated to a particular trading strategy. Only a fraction of one’s total trading capital should be committed to any one trade or transaction.

Trading floor: The location at the options exchanges where option contracts are bought and sold.

Truncated risk: The ability of an investment to resist additional loss. Truncated risk is of particular relevance to options, since an investor cannot lose more than the premium paid. Profits, however, are theoretically unlimited on an option purchase and are equal to the intrinsic value of the option less the premium paid (assuming there is no longer any time value remaining).

Type: The classification of an option contract as either a put or call.


Uncovered call options: A short call option in which the seller (writer) doesn’t own an equivalent position in the underlying stock represented by their call contracts.

Uncovered put options: A short put option in which the seller (writer) doesn’t have a corresponding short stock position or has not deposited cash or cash equivalents in a cash account to cover the potential exercise of the put.

Underlying stock or security: The security that would be purchased or sold if the option is exercised. Underlying securities can include stock, futures, and indexes.

Unit of trading: The minimum quantity or amount allowed when trading a security. The minimum for options is one contract, which generally covers 100 shares of the underlying stock.

Unsystematic risk: The risk of an individual stock that is a function of that company’s outlook for earnings, new products, or other company-specific news. Unsystematic risk has no relationship to systematic risk, or risk inherent in the broader market. It’s also known as company-specific or diversifiable risk.


Vega: The change in an option’s price based on the change in its implied volatility expressed in dollar terms. For example, if stock XYZ has an option with a vega of 0.25, the option’s price will change by 25 cents per each one percentage point change in the option’s implied volatility.

Vertical Debit Spread: A debit spread that utilizes options with the same expiration month. (See also “Bullish/Bearish Debit Spread”).

VIX (also “CBOE Market Volatility Index”): The VIX gauges expected market volatility over the next 30 calendar days by calculating a weighted average of the implied volatilities of eight OEX calls and puts that have an average time to maturity of 30 days. Extreme high and low VIX readings can provide good contrarian signals, though it actually doesn’t matter where the reading lies on an absolute basis if it is at an extreme relative to its recent readings. Buy signals often occur as the VIX reverses lower after an extreme peak, while sell signals occur as the VIX moves higher off an extreme bottom.

Volatility: The propensity of the market price of the underlying security to change in either direction.

Volume: For options, the number of contracts that have been traded within a specific time period (usually a day or a week).


Wasting asset: An asset that has a limited life and tends to decrease in value over time (with all other factors being held constant). Options are wasting assets.


Zero Days to Expiration options: (0DTE) options contracts that expire and become void the same day that they’re traded.

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