Options Glossary

A
Adjustments

A change to contract terms due to a corporate action (e.g., a merger or stock split). Depending on the corporate action, different contract terms (including strike price, deliverable, expiration date, multiplier etc.) could be adjusted. An adjusted option may cover more or less than the usual 100 shares. For example, after a 3-for-2 stock split, the adjusted option will represent 150 shares. For such options, the premium must be multiplied by a corresponding factor. Example: buying 1 call (covering 150 shares) at 4 would cost $600.

All-or-none order (AON)

A type of option order which requires that the order be executed completely or not at all. An AON order may be either a day order or a GTC (good-‘til-cancelled) order.

American-style option

An option that can be exercised at any time prior to its expiration date. See also European-style option.

Arbitrage

A trading technique that involves the simultaneous purchase and sale of identical assets or equivalent assets in two different markets with the intent of profiting by the price discrepancy.

Ask / Ask price

The price at which a seller is offering to sell an option or a stock. See also Assignment.

Assigned (an exercise)

Received notification of an assignment by OCC. See also Assignment.

Assignment

Notification by OCC to a clearing member that an owner of an option has exercised their rights. For equity and index options, OCC makes assignments on a random basis. See also Delivery and Exercise.

At-the-money / At-the-money option

A term that describes an option with a strike price that is equal to the current market price of the underlying stock.

Averaging down

Buying more of a stock or an option at a lower price than the original purchase to reduce the average cost.

B
Backspread

A Delta-neutral spread composed of more long options than short options on the same underlying instrument. This position generally profits from a large movement in either direction in the underlying instrument.

BATS

BATS Options Exchange

Bear (or bearish) spread

One of a variety of strategies involving two or more options (or options combined with a position in the underlying stock) that can potentially profit from a fall in the price of the underlying stock.

Bear spread (call)

The simultaneous writing of one call option with a lower strike price and the purchase of another call option with a higher strike price. Example: writing 1 XYZ May 60 call and buying 1 XYZ May 65 call.

Bear spread (put)

The simultaneous purchase of one put option with a higher strike price and the writing of another put option with a lower strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 put and writing 1 XYZ May 55 put.

Bearish

An adjective describing the opinion that a stock, or a market in general, will decline in price; a negative or pessimistic outlook.

Beta

A measure of how closely the movement of an individual stock tracks the movement of the entire stock market.

Bid / Bid Price

The price at which a buyer is willing to buy an option or a stock.

Black-Scholes formula

The first widely used model for option pricing. This formula is used to calculate a theoretical value for an option using current stock prices, expected dividends, the option's strike price, expected interest rates, time to expiration and expected stock volatility. While the Black-Scholes model does not perfectly describe real-world options markets, it is often used in the valuation and trading of options.

BOX

BOX Options Exchange

Box spread

A four-sided option spread that involves a long call and a short put at one strike price in addition to a short call and a long put at another strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and writing 1 XYZ May 65 call; simultaneously buying 1 XYZ May 65 put and writing 1 May 60 put.

Break-even point(s)

The stock price(s) at which an option strategy results in neither a profit nor a loss. While a strategy's break-even point(s) are normally stated as of the option's expiration date, a theoretical option pricing model can be used to determine the strategy's break-even point(s) for other dates as well.

Broker

A person acting as an agent for making securities transactions. An account executive or a broker at a brokerage firm who deals directly with customers. A floor broker on the trading floor of an exchange actually executes someone else's trading orders.

Bull (or bullish) spread

One of a variety of strategies involving two or more options (or options combined with an underlying stock position) that may potentially profit from a rise in the price of the underlying stock.

Bull spread (call)

The simultaneous purchase of one call option with a lower strike price and the writing of another call option with a higher strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and writing 1 XYZ May 65 call.

Bull spread (put)

The simultaneous writing of one put option with a higher strike price and the purchase of another put option with a lower strike price. Example: writing 1 XYZ May 60 put, and buying 1 XYZ May 55 put.

Bullish

An adjective describing the opinion that a stock, or the market in general, will rise in price; a positive or optimistic outlook.

Butterfly spread

A strategy involving three strike prices with both limited risk and limited profit potential. Establish a long call butterfly by buying one call at the lowest strike price, writing two calls at the middle strike price and buying one call at the highest strike price. Establish a long put butterfly by buying one put at the highest strike price, writing two puts at the middle strike price and buying one put at the lowest strike price. For example, a long call butterfly might include buying 1 XYZ May 55 call, writing 2 XYZ May 60 calls and buying 1 XYZ May 65 call.

Buy-write

A covered call position that includes a stock purchase and an equivalent number of calls written at the same time. This position may be a combined order with both sides (buying stock and writing calls) executed simultaneously. Example: buying 500 shares XYZ stock and writing 5 XYZ May 60 calls. See also Covered call / Covered call writing.

C
C2

C2 Options Exchange

Calendar spread

An option strategy that generally involves the purchase of a longer-termed option(s) (call or put) and the writing of an equal number of nearer-termed option(s) of the same type and strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call (far-term portion of the spread) and writing 1 XYZ March 60 call (near-term portion of the spread). See also Horizontal spread.

Call option

An option contract that gives the owner the right but not the obligation to buy the underlying security at a specified price (its strike price) for a certain, fixed period (until its expiration). For the writer of a call option, the contract represents an obligation to sell the underlying product if the option is assigned.

Carry / Carrying cost

The interest expense on money borrowed to finance a securities position.

Cash settlement amount

The difference between the exercise price of the option being exercised and the exercise settlement value of the index on the day the index option is exercised. See also Exercise settlement amount.

CBOE

Chicago Board Options Exchange

Class of options

A term referring to all options of the same type (either calls or puts) covering the same underlying stock.

Close / Closing transaction

A reduction or an elimination of an open position by the appropriate offsetting purchase or sale. A selling transaction closes an existing long option position. A purchase transaction closes an existing short option position. This transaction reduces the open interest for the specific option involved.

Closing price

The final price of a security at which a transaction was made. See also Settlement price.

Collar

A protective strategy in which a written call and a long put are taken against a previously owned long stock position. The options typically have different strike prices (put strike lower than call strike). Expiration months may or may not be the same. For example, if the investor previously purchased XYZ Corporation at $46 and it rose to $62, the investor could establish a collar involving the purchase of a May 60 put and the writing of a May 65 call to protect some of the unrealized profit in the XYZ Corporation stock position. The investor may also use the reverse (a long call combined with a written put) if he has previously established a short stock position in XYZ Corporation. See also Fence.

Collateral

Securities against which loans are made. If the value of the securities (relative to the loan) declines to an unacceptable level, this triggers a margin call. As such, the investor is asked to post additional collateral or the securities are sold to repay the loan.

Combination

An arrangement of options involving two long, two short, or one long and one short positions. The positions can have different strikes or expiration months. The term combination varies by investor. Example: a long combination might be buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and selling 1 XYZ May 60 put.

Condor spread

A strategy involving four strike prices with both limited risk and limited profit potential. Establish a long call condor spread by buying one call at the lowest strike, writing one call at the second strike, writing another call at the third strike, and buying one call at the fourth (highest) strike. This spread is also referred to as a flat-top butterfly.

Contingency order

An order to execute a transaction in one security that depends on the price of another security. An example might be to sell the XYZ May 60 call at $2.00, contingent upon XYZ stock being at or below $59.

Contract size

The amount of the underlying asset covered by the option contract. This is 100 shares for 1 equity option unless adjusted for a special event.  See also Adjustments.

Conversion

An investment strategy in which a long put and a short call with the same strike price and expiration combine with long stock to lock in a nearly riskless profit. For example, buying 100 shares of XYZ stock, writing 1 XYZ May 60 call and buying 1 XYZ May 60 put at desirable prices. The process of executing these three-sided trades is sometimes called conversion arbitrage. See also Reversal / Reverse conversion.

Cover

To close out an open position. This term most often describes the purchase of an option or stock to close out an existing short position for either a profit or loss.

Covered call / Covered call writing

An option strategy in which a call option is written against an equivalent amount of long stock. Example: writing 2 XYZ May 60 calls while owning 200 shares or more of XYZ stock. See also Buy-write and Overwrite.

Covered combination

A strategy in which one call and one put with the same expiration, but different strike prices, are written against each 100 shares of the underlying stock. Example: writing 1 XYZ May 60 call and writing 1 XYZ May 55 put, and buying 100 shares of XYZ stock. In actuality, this is not a fully covered strategy because assignment on the short put requires purchase of additional stock.

Covered option

An open short option position completely offset by a corresponding stock or option position. A covered call could be offset by long stock or a long call, while a covered put could be offset by a long put or a short stock position. This insures that if the owner of the option exercises, the writer of the option will not have a problem fulfilling the delivery requirements. See also Uncovered call option writing and Uncovered put option writing.

Covered put / Covered cash-secured put

The cash-secured put is an option strategy in which a put option is written against a sufficient amount of cash (or Treasury bills) to pay for the stock purchase if the short option is assigned.

Covered straddle

An option strategy in which one call and one put with the same strike price and expiration are written against each 100 shares of the underlying stock. Example: writing 1 XYZ May 60 call and 1 XYZ May 60 put, and buying 100 shares of XYZ stock. In actuality, this is not a fully covered strategy because assignment on the short put requires purchase of additional stock.

Credit

Money received in an account either from a deposit or from a transaction that results in increasing the account's cash balance.

Credit spread

A spread strategy that increases the account's cash balance when established. A bull spread with puts and a bear spread with calls are examples of credit spreads.

Curvature

A measure of the rate of change in an option's Delta for a one-unit change in the price of the underlying stock. See also Delta.

Cycle

The expiration dates applicable to the different series of options. Traditionally, there were three cycles:

Cycle Available Expiration Months
January January, April, July, October
February February, May, August, November
March March, June, September, December

Today, most equity options expire on a hybrid cycle, which involves four option series: the two nearest-term calendar months and the next two months from the traditional cycle to which that class of options has been assigned. For example, on January 1, a stock in the January cycle will be trading options expiring in these months: January, February, April and July. After the January expiration, the months outstanding will be February, March, April and July.

D
Day order

A type of option order that instructs the broker to cancel any unfilled portion of the order at the close of trading on the day the order was first entered.

Day trade

A position (stock or option) that is opened and closed on the same day.

Debit

Money paid out from an account from either a withdrawal or a transaction that results in decreasing the cash balance.

Debit spread

A spread strategy that decreases the account's cash balance when established. A bull spread with calls and a bear spread with puts are examples of debit spreads.

Decay

A term used to describe how the theoretical value of an option erodes or declines with the passage of time. Time decay is specifically quantified by Theta.

Delivery

The process of meeting the terms of a written option contract when notification of assignment has been received. In the case of a short equity call, the writer must deliver stock and in return receives cash for the stock sold. In the case of a short equity put, the writer pays cash and in return receives the stock.

Delta

A measure of the rate of change in an option's theoretical value for a one-unit change in the price of the underlying stock.

Derivative / Derivative security

A financial security whose value is determined in part from the value and characteristics of another security known as the underlying security.

Diagonal spread

A strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and writing of two options of the same type that have different strike prices and different expiration dates. Example: buying 1 May 60 call and writing 1 March 65 call.

Discount

An adjective used to describe an option that is trading at a price less than its intrinsic value (i.e., trading below parity).

Discretion

Freedom given by an investor to his or her account executive to use judgment regarding the execution of an order. Discretion can be limited, as in the case of a limit order that gives the floor broker price flexibility beyond the stated limit price to use his or her judgment in executing the order. Discretion can also be unlimited, as in the case of a market-not-held order.

E
Early exercise

A feature of American-style options that allows the owner to exercise an option at any time prior to expiration.

Equity

In a margin account, equity is the difference between the securities owned and the margin loans owed. The investor keeps this amount after all positions are closed and all margin loans paid off.

Equity option

An option on shares of an individual common stock or exchange traded fund.

Equivalent strategy

A strategy that has the same risk-reward profile as another strategy. For example, a long May 60-65 call vertical spread is equivalent to a short May 60-65 put vertical spread. See also Synthetic position.

European-style option

An option that can be exercised only during a specified period just prior to expiration. See also American-style option.

Ex-date / Ex-dividend date

The day before the date that an investor must have purchased the stock in order to receive the dividend. On the ex-dividend date, the previous day's closing price is reduced by the amount of the dividend because purchasers of the stock on the ex-dividend date will not receive the dividend payment. This date is sometimes referred to simply as the ex-date, and can apply to other situations (e.g., splits and distributions). If you purchase a stock on the ex-date for a split or distribution, you are not entitled to the split stock or that distribution. However, the opening price for the stock will have been reduced by an appropriate amount, as on the ex-dividend date. Weekly financial publications, such as Barron's, often include a stock's upcoming ex-date as part of their stock tables.

Exchange traded funds (ETFs)

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are index funds or trusts listed on an exchange and traded in a similar fashion as a single equity. The first ETF came about in 1993 with the AMEX's concept of a tradable basket of stocks— Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipt (SPDR). Today, the number of ETFs that trade options continues to grow and diversify. Investors can buy or sell shares in the collective performance of an entire stock portfolio (or a bond portfolio) as a single security. Exchange traded funds allow investors to enjoy some of the more favorable features of stock trading, such as liquidity and ease of equity style, in an environment of more traditional index investing.

Exercise

To invoke the rights granted to the owner of an option contract. In the case of a call, the option owner buys the underlying stock. In the case of a put, the option owner sells the underlying stock.

Exercise by exception processing

A procedure used by OCC as an operational convenience for clearing members. Under these proceedings, OCC assumes a clearing member tendered exercise notices for options that are in-the-money by threshold amounts, unless specifically instructed not to do so. This procedure protects the owner from losing the intrinsic value of the option because of failure to exercise. Unless instructed not to do so, all expiring equity options held in customer accounts are exercised if they are in-the-money by a specified amount.

Exercise price

The price that the owner of an option can purchase (call) or sell (put) the underlying stock. Used interchangeably with strike or strike price.

Exercise settlement amount

The difference between the exercise price of the option being exercised and the exercise settlement value of the index on the day the index option is exercised.

Expiration cycle

The expiration dates applicable to the different series of options. Traditionally, there were three cycles:

Cycle Available expiration months
January January, April, July, October
February February, May, August, November
March March, June, September, December

Today, equity options expire on a hybrid cycle that involves four option series: the two nearest-term calendar months and the next two months from the traditional cycle to which that class of options has been assigned. For example, on January 1, a stock in the January cycle will be trading options expiring in these months: January, February, April and July. After the January expiration, the months outstanding will be February, March, April and July.

Expiration date

The date that an option and the right to exercise it cease to exist.

Expiration Friday

The last business day prior to the option's expiration date during which purchases and sales of options can be made. For equity options, this is generally the third Friday of the expiration month. If the third Friday of the month is an exchange holiday, the last trading day is the Thursday immediately preceding the third Friday.

Expiration month

The month that the expiration date occurs.

F
Fence

A protective strategy in which a written call and a long put are added to a previously owned long stock position, also referred to as a collar. The options may have the same strike price or different strike prices. The expiration months may or may not be the same. For example, if the investor previously purchased XYZ Corporation at $46 and it rose to $62, an investor could establish a collar involving the purchase of a May 60 put and the writing of a May 65 call as a way of protecting some of the unrealized profit in the XYZ Corporation stock position. An investor might also use the reverse (a long call combined with a written put) if he has previously established a short stock position in XYZ Corporation.

Fill-or-kill order (FOK)

A type of option order that requires that the order be executed completely or not at all. A fill-or-kill order is similar to an all-or-none (AON) order. The difference is that if the order cannot be completely executed (i.e., filled in its entirety) as soon as it is announced in the trading crowd, it is killed (cancelled) immediately. Unlike an AON order, an FOK order cannot be used as part of a good-‘til-cancelled order.

FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)

The largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.

Floor broker

A trader on an exchange floor who executes trading orders for other people.

Floor trader

An exchange member on the trading floor who buys and sells for their own account.

Fundamental analysis

A method of predicting stock prices based on the study of earnings, sales, dividends, and so on.

Fungibility

Interchangeability resulting from standardization. Options listed on national exchanges are fungible, while over-the-counter options generally are not. Classes of options listed and traded on more than one national exchange are referred to as multiple-listed/multiple-traded options.

G
Gamma

A measure of the rate of change in an option's Delta for a one-unit change in the price of the underlying stock. See also Delta.

GEM

ISE Gemini

Good-'til-cancelled (GTC) order

A type of limit order that remains in effect until it is either executed (filled) or cancelled. This is unlike a day order, which expires if not executed by the end of the trading day. If not executed, a GTC option order is automatically cancelled at the option's expiration.

H
Hedge / Hedged position

A position established with the specific intent of protecting an existing position. For example, an owner of common stock may buy a put option to hedge against a possible stock price decline.

Historic volatility

A measure of actual stock price changes over a specific period. See also Standard deviation.

Holder

Any person who has made an opening purchase transaction, call or put, and has that position in a brokerage account.

Horizontal spread

An option strategy that generally involves the purchase of a farther-term option (call or put) and the writing of an equal number of nearer-term options of the same type and strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call (far-term portion of the spread) and writing 1 XYZ March 60 call (near-term portion of the spread). See also Calendar spread.

I
Immediate-or-cancel order (IOC)

A type of option order that gives the trading crowd one opportunity to take the other side of the trade. After announcement, the order is either partially or totally filled with any remaining balance immediately cancelled. An IOC order, considered a type of day order, cannot be used as part of a good-‘til-cancelled order since it is cancelled shortly after being entered. The difference between fill-or-kill (FOK) orders and IOC orders is that an IOC order may be partially executed.

Implied volatility

The volatility percentage that produces the best fit for all underlying option prices on that underlying stock. See also Individual volatility.

In-the-money / In-the-money option

A term used to describe an option with intrinsic value. For standard options, a call option is in-the-money if the stock price is above the strike price. A put option is in-the-money if the stock price is below the strike price.

Index

A compilation of several stock prices into a single number. Example: the S&P 100 Index.

Index option

An option whose underlying interest is an index. Generally, index options are cash-settled.

Individual volatility

The volatility percentage that justifies an option's price, as opposed to historic volatility or implied volatility. A theoretical pricing model can be used to generate an option's individual volatility when the five remaining quantifiable factors (stock price, time until expiration, strike price, interest rates and cash dividends) are entered along with the price of the option itself.

Institution

A professional investment management company. Typically, this term describes money managers such as banks, pension funds, mutual funds and insurance companies.

Intrinsic value

The in-the-money portion of an option's premium. See also In-the-money.

Iron butterfly

An option strategy with limited risk and limited profit potential that involves both a long (or short) straddle, and a short (or long) strangle. An iron butterfly contains four options. It is equivalent to a regular butterfly spread that contains only three options. For example, a short iron butterfly might include buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and 1 May 60 put, and writing 1 XYZ May 65 call and writing 1 XYZ May 55 put.

ISE

International Securities Exchange

ISE Gemini

International Securities Exchange Gemini

J
No J Options Glossary Items

There are currently no glossary items for this letter.

K
Kappa

A measure of the rate of change in an option's theoretical value for a one-unit change in the volatility assumption.

L
Lambda

A measure of leverage. The expected percentage change in the value of an option for a 1% change in the value of the underlying product.

Last trading day

The last business day before the option's expiration date during which purchases and sales of options can be made. For equity options, this is generally the third Friday of the expiration month. If the third Friday of the month is an exchange holiday, the last trading day is the Thursday immediately preceding the third Friday.

LEAPS® (Long-term Equity AnticiPation Securities) / Long-dated options

Calls and puts with an expiration of over nine months when listed. Currently, equity LEAPS have two series at any time with a January expiration.

Leg

A term describing one side of a position with two or more sides. When a trader legs into a spread, they establish one side first, hoping for a favorable price movement in order to execute the other side at a better price. This is a higher-risk method of establishing a spread position.

Leverage

A term describing the greater percentage of profit or loss potential when a given amount of money controls a security with a much larger face value. For example, a call option enables the owner to assume the upside potential of 100 shares of stock by investing a much smaller amount than that required to buy the stock. If the stock increases by 10%, for example, the option might double in value. Conversely, a 10% stock price decline might result in the total loss of the purchase price of the option.

Limit order

A trading order placed with a broker to buy or sell stock or options at a specific price.

Liquidity / Liquid market

Trading environments characterized by high trading volume, a narrow spread between the bid and ask prices, and the ability to trade larger sized orders without significant price changes.

Listed option

A put or call traded on a national options exchange. In contrast, over-the-counter options usually have non-standard or negotiated terms.

Long option position

The position of an option purchaser (owner) which represents the right to either buy stock (in the case of a call) or to sell stock (in the case of a put) at a specified price (strike price) at or before some date in the future (the expiration date). This position results from an opening purchase transaction (long call or long put).

Long stock position

A position in which an investor has purchased and owns stock.

M
Margin / Margin requirement

The minimum equity required to support an investment position. To buy on margin refers to borrowing part of the purchase price of a security from a brokerage firm.

Mark-to-market

An accounting process by which the price of securities held in an account are valued each day to reflect the closing price or closing market quotes. As a result, the equity in an account is updated daily to reflect current security prices properly.

Market order

A trading order placed with a broker to immediately buy or sell a stock or option at the best available price.

Market quote

Quotations of the current best bid/ask prices for an option or stock in the marketplace (an exchange trading floor). The investor usually obtains this information from a brokerage firm. However, for listed options and stocks, these quotes are widely disseminated and available through various commercial quotation services.

Market maker

An exchange member on the trading floor who buys and sells options for their own account and who has the responsibility of making bids and offers and maintaining a fair and orderly market. See also Specialist / specialist group / specialist system.

Market maker system (competing)

A method of supplying liquidity in options markets by having market makers in competition with one another. As an alternative to a specialist system, they are also responsible for making fair and orderly markets in a given class of options.

Market-not-held order

A type of market order that allows the investor to give discretion to the floor broker regarding the price and/or time of trade execution.

Market-on-close order (MOC)

A type of option order that requires that an order be executed at or near the close of trading on the day the order is entered.

Married put strategy

The simultaneous purchase of stock and put options representing an equivalent number of shares. This is a limited risk strategy during the life of the puts because the stock can always be sold for at least the strike price of the purchased puts.

MIAX

Miami Options Exchange

Model

A mathematical formula used to calculate the theoretical value of an option. See also Black-Scholes formula.

Multiple-listed / multiple-traded option

Any option contract listed and traded on more than one national options exchange. See also Fungibility.

N
Naked or uncovered option

A short option position that is not fully collateralized if notification of assignment is received. A short call position is uncovered if the writer does not have a long stock or deeper-in-the-money long call position. A short put position is uncovered if the writer is not short stock or long another deeper-in-the-money put.

NASDAQ

A national securities exchange (Operated by NASDAQ OMX).

Net credit

Money received in an account either from a deposit or a transaction that results in increasing the account's cash balance.

Net debit

Money paid from an account either from a withdrawal or a transaction that results in decreasing the cash balance.

Neutral

An adjective describing the belief that a stock or the market in general will neither rise nor decline significantly.

Neutral strategy

An option strategy (Or stock and option position) expected to benefit from a neutral market outcome.

Ninety-ten (90/10) strategy

A conservative option strategy in which an investor buys Treasury bills (or other liquid assets) with 90% of their funds, and buys call options (or put options or a mixture of both) with the balance. The proportions of this strategy are subject to change based on prevailing interest rates.

NOBO

NASDAQ OMX BX Options Market

NOM

NASDAQ Options Market

Non-equity option

Any option that does not have common stock as the underlying asset. Non-equity options include options on futures, indexes, foreign currencies, Treasury security yields, etc.

Not-held order

A type of order that releases normal obligations implied by the other terms of the order. For example, a limit order designated as not-held allows discretion to the floor broker in filling the order when the market trades at the limit price of the order. In this case, there is no obligation to provide the customer with an execution if the market trades through the limit price on the order. See also Discretion and Market-not-held order.

NYSE

A national securities exchange (Operated by NYSE Euronext).

NYSE Amex

NYSE Amex Options

NYSE Arca

NYSE Arca Options

O
Offer / Offer price

The price at which a seller is offering to sell an option or a stock. Also known as ask or ask price.

One-cancels-other order (OCO)

A type of option order that treats two or more option orders as a package, whereby the execution of any one of the orders causes all the orders to be reduced by the same amount. For example, the investor would enter an OCO order if they wished to buy 10 May 60 calls or 10 June 60 calls or any combination of the two which when summed equaled 10 contracts. An OCO order may be a day order or a good-‘til-cancel order.

Open interest

The total number of outstanding option contracts on a given series or for a given underlying stock.

Open outcry

The trading method by which competing market makers and floor brokers representing public orders make bids and offers on the trading floor.

Opening transaction

An addition to, or creation of, a trading position. An opening purchase transaction adds long options to an investor's total position, and an opening sale transaction adds short options. An opening option transaction increases that option's open interest.

Option

A contract that gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a particular asset (the underlying stock) at a fixed price (the strike price) for a specific period of time (until expiration) . The contract also obligates the writer to meet the terms of delivery if the owner exercises the contract right.

Option period

The time from when a buyer or writer of an option creates an option contract to the expiration date; sometimes referred to as an option's lifetime.

Option pricing curve

A graphical representation of the estimated theoretical value of an option at one point in time, at various prices of the underlying stock.

Option pricing model

The first widely used model for option pricing was the Black Scholes. This formula can be used to calculate a theoretical value for an option using current stock prices, expected dividends, the option's strike price, expected interest rates, time to expiration and expected stock volatility. While the Black-Scholes model does not perfectly describe real-world options markets, it is still often used in the valuation and trading of options.

Option writer

The seller of an option contract who is obligated to meet the terms of delivery if the option owner exercises his or her right. This seller has made an opening sale transaction, and has not yet closed that position.

Optionable stock

A stock on which listed options are traded.

Options Clearing Corporation (OCC)

A registered clearing agency whose shares are owned by the exchanges that trade listed equity options, OCC is an intermediary between option buyers and sellers. OCC issues and guarantees all listed option contracts.

OTC option

An over-the-counter option is traded in the over-the-counter market. OTC options are not listed on an options exchange and do not have standardized terms. These are to be distinguished from exchange-listed and traded equity options, which are standardized. See also Fungibility.

Out-of-the-money / Out-of-the-money option

A term used to describe an option that has no intrinsic value. The option’s premium consists entirely of time value. For standard contracts, a call option is out-of-the-money if the stock price is below its strike price. A put option is out-of-the-money if the stock price is above its strike price. See also Intrinsic value and Time value.

Over-the-counter / Over-the-counter market

A decentralized association of market participants, with many characteristics of an exchange, where trading takes place via an electronic network.

Overwrite

An option strategy involving the writing of call options (wholly or partially) against existing long stock positions. This is different from the buy-write strategy that involves the simultaneous purchase of stock and writing of a call. See also Ratio write.

Owner

Any person who has made an opening purchase transaction, call or put, and has that position in a brokerage account.

P
Parity

A term used to describe an option contract's total premium when that premium is the same amount as its intrinsic value. For example, an option is ‘worth parity’ when its theoretical value is equal to its intrinsic value. An option is said to be ‘trading for parity’ when an option is trading for only its intrinsic value. Parity may be measured against the stocks last sale, bid or offer.

Payoff diagram

A chart of the profits and losses for a particular options strategy prepared in advance of the execution of the strategy. The diagram is a plot of expected profits or losses against the price of the underlying security.

PHLX

NASDAQ OMX PHLX

Physical delivery option

An option whose underlying entity is a physical good or commodity, like a common stock or a foreign currency. When its owner exercises that option, there is delivery of that physical good or commodity from one brokerage or trading account to another.

Pin risk

The risk to an investor (option writer) that the stock price will exactly equal the strike price at expiration (that option will be exactly at-the-money). The investor will not know how many of their written(short) options will be assigned or whether a last second move in the underlying will leave any long options in- or out-of-the-money. The risk is that on the following Monday the option writer might have an unexpected long (in the case of a written put) or short (in the case of a written call) stock position, and thus be subject to the risk of an adverse price move.

Position

The combined total of an investor's open option contracts (Calls and/or puts) and long or short stock.

Position trading

An investing strategy in which open positions are held for an extended period.

Premium

1. Total price of an option: intrinsic value plus time value.
2. Often (Erroneously) this word is used to mean the same as time value.

Primary market

For securities traded in more than one market, the primary market is usually the exchange where trading volume in that security is highest.

Profit/loss graph

A graphical presentation of the profit and loss possibilities of an investment strategy at one point in time (usually option expiration), at various stock prices.

Put option

An option contract that gives the owner the right to sell the underlying stock at a specified price (its strike price) for a certain, fixed period (until its expiration). For the writer of a put option, the contract represents an obligation to buy the underlying stock from the option owner if the option is assigned.

Q
No Q Options Glossary Items

There are currently no glossary items for this letter.

R
Ratio spread

A term most commonly used to describe the purchase of an option(s), call or put, and the writing of a greater number of the same type of options that are out-of-the-money with respect to those purchased. All options involved have the same expiration date. For example, buying 5 XYZ May 60 calls and writing 6 XYZ May 65 calls. See also Ratio write.

Ratio write

An investment strategy in which stock is purchased and call options are written on a greater than one-for-one basis (more calls written than the equivalent number of shares purchased). For example, buying 500 shares of XYZ stock, and writing 6 XYZ May 60 calls. See also Ratio spread.

Realized gains and losses

The net amount received or paid when a closing transaction is made and matched with an opening transaction.

Resistance

A term used in technical analysis to describe a price area at which rising prices are expected to stop or meet increased selling activity. This analysis is based on historic price behavior of the stock.

Reversal / Reverse conversion

An investment strategy used mostly by professional option traders in which a short put and long call with the same strike price and expiration combine with short stock to lock in a nearly riskless profit. For example, selling short 100 shares of XYZ stock, buying 1 XYZ May 60 call, and writing 1 XYZ May 60 put at favorable prices. The process of executing these three-sided trades is sometimes called reversal arbitrage. See also Conversion.

Rho

A measure of the expected change in an option's theoretical value for a 1% change in interest rates.

Rolling

A trading action in which the trader simultaneously closes an open option position and creates a new option position at a different strike price, different expiration, or both. Variations of this include rolling up, rolling down, rolling out and diagonal rolling.

S
SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is an agency of the federal government that is in charge of monitoring and regulating the securities industry.

Secondary market

A market where securities are bought and sold after their initial purchase by public investors.

Sector index

An index that measures the performance of a narrow market segment, such as biotechnology or small capitalization stocks.

Secured put / Cash-secured put

An option strategy in which a put option is written against a sufficient amount of cash (or Treasury bills) to pay for the stock purchase if the short option is assigned.

Series of options

Option contracts on the same class having the same strike price and expiration month. For example, all XYZ May 60 calls constitute a series.

Settlement

The process by which the underlying stock is transferred from one brokerage account to another when equity option contracts are exercised by their owners and the inherent obligations assigned to option writers.

Settlement price

The official price at the end of a trading session. OCC establishes this price and uses it to determine changes in account equity, margin requirements and for other purposes. See also Mark-to-market.

Short option position

The position of an option writer that represents an obligation on the part of the option's writer to meet the terms of the option if its owner exercises it. The writer can terminate this obligation by buying back (cover or close) the position with a closing purchase transaction.

Short stock position

A strategy that profits from a stock price decline. It is initiated by borrowing stock from a broker-dealer and selling it in the open market. This strategy is closed (covered) later by buying back the stock and returning it to the lending broker-dealer.

Specialist / Specialist group / Specialist system

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 managing the limit order book and making bids and offers for their own account in the absence of opposite market side orders. See also Market maker and Market maker system (competing).

Spin-off

A stock dividend issued by one company in shares of another corporate entity, such as a subsidiary corporation of the company issuing the dividend.

Spread / Spread order

A position consisting of two parts, each of which alone would profit from opposite directional price moves. As orders, these opposite parts are entered and executed simultaneously in the hope of (1) limiting risk, or (2) benefiting from a change of price relationship between the two parts.

Standard deviation

A statistical measure of price fluctuation. One use of the standard deviation is to measure how stock price movements are distributed about the mean. See also Volatility.

Standardization

Interchangeability resulting from standardization. Options listed on national exchanges are fungible, while over-the-counter options generally are not. Classes of options listed and traded on more than one national exchange are referred to as multiple-listed / multiple-traded options.

Stock dividend

A dividend paid in shares of stock rather than cash. See also Spin-off.

Stock split

An increase in the number of outstanding shares by a corporation through the issuance of a set number of shares to a shareholder for a set number of shares that the shareholder already owns. For example, a corporation might declare a 2-for-1 stock split. This means that for every share of stock an investor owns, he/she will be given another, thus owning two shares instead of one. There will be a corresponding reduction in equity value per share. In this case, the new shares (post-split) will be worth one-half their previous value but the investor will own twice as many shares.

Stop order

A type of contingency order, often erroneously known as a stop-loss order, placed with a broker. It becomes a market order when the stock trades, or is bid or offered, at or through a specified price. See also Stop-limit order.

Stop-limit order

A type of contingency order placed with a broker that becomes a limit order when the stock trades, or is bid or offered, at or through a specific price.

Straddle

A trading position involving puts and calls on a one-to-one basis in which the puts and calls have the same strike price, expiration and underlying stock. When both options are owned, the position is called a long straddle. When both options are written, it is a short straddle. Example: a long straddle might be buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and buying 1 XYZ May 60 put.

Strike / Strike price

The price at which the owner of an option can purchase (call) or sell (put) the underlying stock. Used interchangeably with striking price or exercise price.

Strike price interval

The normal price differential between option strike prices. Exchange rules for strike intervals have changed over the years, and many stocks are now listed in $1 increments or smaller. In general, strike intervals in equity options are listed in $2.50 increments for strikes under $50 and in $5 increments from $50 up to $200. Over $200, strikes are listed in $10 increments. As mentioned, many stocks are now exempt from standard listing procedures and strike increments will vary.

Suitability

A requirement that any investing strategy fall within the financial means and investment objectives of an investor or trader.

Support

A term used in technical analysis to describe a price area at which falling prices are expected to stop or meet increased buying activity. This analysis is based on previous price behavior of the stock.

Synthetic long call

A long stock position combined with a long put of the same series as that call.

Synthetic long put

A short stock position combined with a long call of the same series as that put.

Synthetic long stock

A long call position combined with a short put of the same series.

Synthetic position

A strategy involving two or more instruments that have the same risk-reward profile as a strategy involving only one instrument.

Synthetic short call

A short stock position combined with a short put of the same series as that call.

Synthetic short put

A long stock position combined with a short call of the same series as that put.

Synthetic short stock

A short call position combined with a long put of the same series.

T
Technical analysis

A method of predicting future stock price movements based on the study of historical market data such as the prices themselves, trading volume, open interest, the relation of advancing issues to declining issues, short selling volume and others.

Theoretical option pricing model

A formula that can be used to calculate a theoretical value for an option using current stock prices, expected dividends, the option's strike price, expected interest rates, time to expiration and expected stock volatility.

Theoretical value

The estimated value of an option derived from a mathematical model. See also Model and Black-Scholes formula.

Theta

A measure of the rate of change in an option's theoretical value for a one-unit change in time to the option's expiration date. See also Time decay.

Tick

The minimum price increment for an option's bid or ask.

Time decay

A term used to describe how the theoretical value of an option erodes or reduces with the passage of time. Time decay is specifically quantified by Theta.

Time spread

An option strategy that generally involves the purchase of a farther-term option (call or put) and the writing of an equal number of nearer-term options of the same type and strike price. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call (far-term portion of the spread) and writing 1 XYZ March 60 call (near-term portion of the spread). Also known as calendar spread or horizontal spread.

Time value

The part of an option's total price that exceeds its intrinsic value. The premium of an out-of-the-money option consists entirely of time value.

Trader

1. Any investor who makes frequent purchases and sales.
2. A member of an exchange who conducts his or her buying and selling on the trading floor of the exchange.

Trading pit

A specific location on the trading floor of an exchange designated for the trading of a specific option class or stock.

Transaction costs

All of the charges associated with executing a trade and maintaining a position. These include brokerage commissions, fees for exercise and/or assignment, exchange fees, SEC fees and margin interest. In academic studies, the spread between bid and ask is taken into account as a transaction cost.

Type of options

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

U
Uncovered call option writing

A short call option position in which the writer does not own an equivalent position in the underlying security represented by his or her option contracts.

Uncovered put option writing

A short put option position in which the writer does not have a corresponding short position in the underlying security or has not deposited, in a cash account, cash or cash equivalents equal to the exercise value of the put.

Underlying security

The security subject to being purchased or sold upon exercise of the option contract.

V
Vega

A measure of the rate of change in an option's theoretical value for a one-unit change in the volatility assumption. See also Kappa and Delta.

Vertical spread

Most commonly used to describe the purchase of one option and writing of another where both are of the same type and of same expiration month, but have different strike prices. Example: buying 1 XYZ May 60 call and writing 1 XYZ May 65 call. See also Bull (or bullish) spread and Bear (or bearish) spread.

Volatility

A measure of stock price fluctuation. Mathematically, volatility is the annualized standard deviation of a stock's daily price changes. See also Historic volatility, Individual volatility and Implied volatility

W
Write / Writer

To sell an option that is not owned through an opening sale transaction. While this position remains open, the writer is subject to fulfilling the obligations of that option contract; i.e., to sell stock (In the case of a call) or buy stock (In the case of a put) if that option is assigned. An investor who so sells an option is called the writer, regardless of whether the option is covered or uncovered.

X
XYZ / XYZ Corporation

A fictitious company used as the underlying stock throughout the OIC website.

Y
No Y Options Glossary Items

There are currently no glossary items for this letter.

Z
No Z Options Glossary Items

There are currently no glossary items for this letter.

Talk to Options Professionals

Questions about anything options-related?
Call or chat with an options
professional now.

Call 1-888-OPTIONS
Speak to an Options Professional!
Chat with Options Professionals

Questions about anything options-related?
Chat with an options professional now.

Start Live Chat
Email Options Professionals

Questions about anything options-related?
Email an options professional now.

options@theocc.com

REGISTER FOR THE OPTIONS
EDUCATION PROGRAM

  • Free, unbiased options education
  • Learn in-person and online
  • Advance at your own pace