A pip is the smallest amount of movement a price quote can make. In other words, each tick of the price quote is a pip. When EUR/USD moves from 1.2786 to 1.2787, for example, it has moved by one pip. You could also call it a point or a tick, but in forex traders’ jargon, pip is the word.
It’s a good idea to measure your profit or loss in pips rather than in the amount you actually lose or earn, since the trader’s performance can only be valued through his success in gathering pips. For instance, supposing trader A has a beginning capital of 100 USD, and trader B has only 10, it would take trader B ten times as much in terms of pips to achieve the same gain that was acquired by trader A in absolute dollar terms. In terms of their prowess in the market, however, if trader B were to make just 1/10 of what trader A makes, they’d still be equal, due to the the difference between their starting capital. This same logic can be utilized when assessing one’s own prowess, and if a diary is kept, it’s always better to note the loss or profit in pips, rather than cash, so as to keep a better track of performance.
It must also be remembered that one pip in the currency pair that is traded may not be the same amount in the trader’s base currency, that is, the currency with which he funds his account. For instance, if your currency is the British Pound, and you’re trading the EUR/USD, one pip movement in the currency pair would be a different amount in your base currency, depending on the quotes.
Another important term in trading forex is the lot, which is the smallest amount of currency you can trade at a particular level of leverage, and the standard lot size is 100,000 USD. Among today’s forex brokers, there are those who allow traders to enter bids without the use of lots (sometimes called mini lots), and the inexperienced trader may seek them before gaining enough confidence to start trading with a higher volume.