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Falling Knife


A falling knife is a financial term describing a rapid decline in the value of a security or asset, usually accompanied by significant selling volume. The term is commonly used as a cautionary metaphor, warning investors not to attempt catching a ‘falling knife,’ meaning they should avoid hopping onto a downward price trend by purchasing the declining asset. The main implication is that catching such a declining asset can result in significant portfolio losses, similar to catching a real falling knife which may result in physical injury.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Falling Knife” would be:/ˈfɔː.lɪŋ naɪf/Falling: /ˈfɔː.lɪŋ/Knife: /naɪf/Here, I have used the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to represent the sounds.

Key Takeaways

  1. Falling Knife is a term used in finance, typically referring to a rapid decline in the value of an asset or investment.
  2. Investors are usually cautioned against trying to catch a falling knife, as the sudden drop can result in significant losses.
  3. To mitigate the risk of catching a falling knife, traders can use tools such as stop-loss orders, proper risk management, and thorough research of the assets involved.


The term “falling knife” is important in the world of business and finance because it serves as a metaphorical warning to investors against trying to purchase assets, mainly stocks, that are experiencing a sharp decline in their value. When investors attempt to catch a falling knife, they often buy assets they believe are undervalued or reaching their lowest price, in the hope they will rebound and generate profit. However, attempting to do so can be extremely risky, as it is difficult to accurately predict when an asset’s value will bottom out or if it will ever recover. Consequently, the falling knife concept is essential for investors to understand when making decisions, as it highlights the significance of thoroughly analyzing the reasons behind an asset’s decline and avoiding impulsive, uninformed decisions that could result in substantial financial losses.


Falling Knife, a term predominantly used within the finance and investment community, refers to a rapid and significant decline in the value of an asset, typically stocks or securities. The analogy of a “falling knife” warns investors against attempting to purchase an asset while its value plummets, as catching a falling knife is both risky and potentially injurious. The purpose of this term is to emphasize the uncertainty and potential danger of trying to capitalize on steep asset devaluation in anticipation of a rebound, as determining the precise moment when an asset’s price will bottom out and consequently rise in value can pose considerable challenges to even the most experienced investors.

Seasoned investors often rely on the falling knife concept as a cautionary principle, emphasizing the critical importance of meticulously analyzing market conditions and trends before making any buy or sell decisions. While some investors might perceive falling knife scenarios as opportunities to acquire assets at bargain prices, the high degree of unpredictability and lack of guarantee for a subsequent appreciation in value makes this approach particularly risky. Instead, many investors adopt a more conservative strategy, which entails waiting for signs of stability and market recovery before committing to any investment decision. By doing so, they effectively mitigate the risk of further losses and avoid the pitfall of “catching a falling knife”.


A “falling knife” is an idiomatic expression used in finance to describe a security, usually a stock or a cryptocurrency, that has suffered a rapid and severe decline in value. It is often referred to as “catching a falling knife” when a trader tries to buy into the crashing asset, hoping for a rebound. Here are three real-world examples:

1. The 2008 Financial Crisis: Many financial stocks experienced rapid declines in value during the financial crisis. Banks and financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Citigroup saw their share prices plummet. Traders who attempted to catch these falling knives often incurred significant losses as prices continued to drop in value.

2. The Dot-com bubble: In the early 2000s, the Dot-com bubble burst, causing many technology stocks to plummet in value. Companies like, Webvan, and eToys saw significant declines in share prices. Investors trying to catch the falling knife by purchasing these stocks at lower prices were often disappointed as stock prices for many of these companies continued to fall until they eventually went bankrupt.

3. The 2018 Cryptocurrency Crash: In late 2017, cryptocurrency prices soared, with Bitcoin reaching its peak at around $20,000. However, in 2018, the cryptocurrency market experienced a significant crash, with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies losing more than half of their value. Traders trying to catch the falling knife during this period only saw their investments further depreciate, as cryptocurrency prices continued to fall throughout 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Falling Knife in finance and business terms?

A falling knife is a term used in finance and investing to describe a rapidly declining stock or asset price. It reflects the notion that purchasing a plummeting stock is as dangerous as attempting to catch a literal falling knife.

Why is it not recommended to catch a Falling Knife?

Catching a falling knife is considered risky because it is challenging to accurately predict the bottom of a stock’s decline. Investors jumping in too early may experience further losses as the stock continues to drop, potentially resulting in significant financial losses.

How can I identify a Falling Knife scenario?

A falling knife can be identified by observing the technical indicators and chart trends of a stock or asset. A sudden and rapid drop in price, usually accompanied by higher trading volumes and negative news or data, can signal a falling knife situation.

Can I profit from a Falling Knife scenario?

Yes, it is possible to profit from a falling knife scenario if you correctly identify the bottom of the price decline and purchase the stock before it begins to rebound. However, this strategy is considered high-risk and not recommended for inexperienced investors.

How can I protect my investments from Falling Knives?

To protect yourself from falling knives, consider employing stop-loss orders, which automatically sell a stock when its price falls below a specified threshold. Additionally, diversify your portfolio to prevent overexposure to a single stock or sector and follow a disciplined investment plan to minimize emotions and avoid impulsive decisions.

Related Finance Terms

  • Market Downturn
  • Stock Decline
  • Investment Risk
  • Bottom Fishing
  • Value Traps

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