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Yu-Gi-Oh Terminology Explained

When players become Duelists, they may end up finding out about various terms used to describe either actions during a Duel or to describe a property of the card itself.
Official Terms
Holofoil A card that is Super Rare or higher. This is sometimes abbreviated as "foil" or "holo".
 
Set (action) The act of placing a card face-down on the field (where the card's back is shown if the card is not in a card sleeve).
 
Subtype An additional property of Monster Cards that follows the Monster Card's main Type. These cannot be changed to other Types as of yet.
 
Tribute The act of sending a Monster Card on the field to the Graveyard. The difference between Tributing and Sending is simply how the card's text is worded.
 
Cost The act of either paying Life Points, Tributing a monster(s) or sending a card(s) from the hand or field to the Graveyard to either use a card's effect or to keep a card on the field. These days, this is indicated as the very first bit of text in a card's effect followed by a semi-colon or after a regular colon when the card's effect condition has been met.
 
Trigger Effect A card effect that is activated or triggered when the condition written in its text is met such as being destroyed or sent from the hand to the Graveyard. These are generally start off "If" or "When" for their effects.
 
Manditory Effect A card effect that the owner must proceed to resolve via the card's effect once it's been activated. These effects typically lack the phrase "you can".
 
Turn Phase One of several phases during a player's turn.
 
Turn Player The player currently taking their turn of a Duel.
 
Draw Phase The phase of a turn where the Turn Player draws the top card of their Deck and adds it to their hand (excluding the first turn of the Duel, though it was previously included).
 
Standby Phase The phase of a turn where the Turn Player can activate certain cards or effects or pay costs for cards already in play.
 
Main Phase The phase of a turn where the Turn Player can Summon/Set monsters or activate/Set Spell or Trap Cards. There are two Main Phases but you generally only get to use one per turn.
 
Battle Phase The phase of a turn where the Turn Player can attack with their monsters. Monsters that can attack are generally required to be in Attack Position but some monsters can bypass this rule. 
 
Damage Calculation The part of the Battle Phase where Battle Damage is calculated using 1 or more monsters' ATK, DEF, both or neither (for direct attacks).
 
End Phase The phase of a turn where the Turn Player is coming to an end and gives either player a chance to respond with certain cards where applicable.
 
FTK
(First Turn Kill)
The act of 1 player winning the Duel during their first turn of the Duel (see also OTK).
 
OTK
(One Turn Kill)
The act of 1 player winning the Duel in a single turn. Unlike an FTK, this is not restrained to one particular turn of the Duel.
 
Zero Turn Kill The act of 1 player winning the Duel without their opponent getting a turn. Much like an FTK, this involves a particular turn of the Duel. This is more commonly seen in the anime but is theoretially possible in some situations for real Duels.
 
Normal Summon The act of placing a Monster Card face-up vertically on the field without using a card effect to do so.
 
Special Summon The act of placing a Monster Card face-up vertically or horizontally on the field using a card effect. This is different from an inherent Special Summon which is a Special Summon that doesn't count as an effect. Instead, it is more of a condition that must be met and conditions cannot be negated.
 
Flip Summon The act of turning a Monster Card face-up from face-down without using a card effect. This is different from having a monster turned face-up because you're simply using a card effect or monster attack to turn the card over.
 
Negate To prevent a card from being activated or Summoned.
 
Counter (effect) An item given to specific card effects that accumulates over time as per the card's effect.
 
Attribute A symbol next to a Monster Card's name. This is generally only relevent for cards that mention Attributes.
 
Attack (property) A Monster Card's offense. This is abbreviated "ATK" on the card and is only really relevent for damage calculation.
 
Defense (property) A Monster Card's defense. This is abbreviated "DEF" on the card and is only really relevent for damage calculation.
 
Level The number of orange and yellow stars underneath a Monster Card's name and Attribute that are aligned to the right.
 
Rank The number of dark blue and light yellow stars underneath a Monster Card's name and Attribute that are aligned to the left.
 
Archetype A series of monsters designated by name. This is indicated with quotation marks around the Archetype's name (an "X" monster). This is different from quotation marks used to reference 1 specific card such as with Ritual Monsters and Ritual Spells.
 
Limitation Text Text in the bottom-left corner where the card's 16-digit passcode would be that indicates the card is not legal in tournaments. This is why the 3 original God Cards are not on the Forbidden & Limited List because they are not meant to be part of the game.
 
Extra Deck The spare Deck used for Special Summoning a specific group of monsters that cannot be in the Main Deck. This was previously called the Fusion Deck.
 
Battle Position The position a Monster Card is in during a Duel. They can only be in Attack Mode or Defense Mode.
 
Life Points The health of a Duelist during a Duel. This is abbreviated "LP" on cards these days.
 
Graveyard The place where all destroyed/discarded cards go during a Duel. This is abbreviated "GY" on cards these days.
 
Banish The act of removing a card(s) on the field, in the hand, in the Graveyard or in the Deck from play.
 
Attack Mode The act of placing a monster face-up vertically on the field (there is currently no way to bring out a Monster Card vertically face-down, though it used to be possible to put a Monster Card in that state). This is also called Attack Position.
 
Defense Mode The act of placing a monster face-up or face-down horizontally on the field. Generally, they are only Set on the field unless a card prevents you from doing so. This is also called Defense Position.
 
Effect Monster A Monster Card with an orange/brown border surrounding the card's main properties. They also have the word "Effect" in their text (though in previous card releases, this was ommited for cards with subtypes).
 
Toon Monster A Monster Card with "Toon" as a subtype with an effect that lets them attack directly. Early versions had a Life Point cost to do so but later versions did not.
 
Union Monster A Monster Card with "Union" as a subtype that can equip itself as an Equip Card to other Monster Cards.
 
Match Winner A Monster Card with an effect that grants its controller victory in a match when the conditions are met. These are generally not legal for tournament play, though Victory Dragon was briefly legal until it caused issues in Duels whereby players would scoop to avoid the match loss.
 
Match The best of 3 Duels.
 
Spirit Monster A Monster Card with "Spirit" as a subtype that generally returns to its owner's hand at the End Phase of their turn. Most monsters of this nature also cannot be Special Summoned but there are exceptions to both instances.
 
Fip Effect Monster A Monster Card with "Flip" as a subtype whose effect is activated once the card is turned face-up after being Set. These cards have the word "FLIP:" at the beginning of the card's effect and only recently have the word "Flip" as a subtype. Monsters with these effects now have a line break after the "FLIP:" part of the effect as to not confuse it with the rest of the effect.
 
Normal Monster A Monster Card with a dark yellow border surrounding the card's main properties. They have a story instead of an effect and the text below the monster's type is in italics. There may also be a condition that links the card to other members of that Archetype. This is written as "(This card is always treated as an "X" card.)". In recent years, these cards have also been identified with "Normal" as a subtype.
 
Fusion Monster A Monster Card with a purple/violet border surrounding the card's main properties. These cards also have the word "Fusion" as a subtype and can lack effects or have them but they almost always have Fusion Materials listed before the effects.
 
Ritual Monster A Monster Card with a blue border surrounding the card's main properties. These monsters have the word "Ritual" as a subtype and like Fusion Monsters can either just say how the card is Ritual Summoned or include an effect to go with those requirements. Previously, these cards used to require the corresponding Ritual Spell to be activated before they were Ritual Summoned but now it's optional in most cases.
 
Ritual Summon The act of Tributing monsters in conjunction with a Ritual Spell to Special Summon a Ritual Monster.
 
Tuner Monster A Monster Card with "Tuner" as a subtype that serves as the first requirement for Synchro Monsters. They can used for all types of Summons but first appeared with Synchro Monsters.
 
Non-Tuner Monster All Monster Cards that lack "Tuner" as a subtype.
 
Synchro Monster A Monster Card with a white border around the card's properties that requires Tuner and non-Tuner monsters for Synchro Materials
 
Synchro Summon The act of sending Tuner and non-Tuner monsters on the field to the Graveyard.
 
Synchro Material Monsters used for the Synchro Summon of a Synchro Monster. Their combined Levels must equal the Synchro Monster's Level unless stated otherwise. Generally, only monsters with Levels can be Synchro Material but not all Synchro Monsters have a printed Level, and some may have specific summoning requirements to be met.
 
Dark Tuner Monster A Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds anime-only Monster Card that is associated with Dark Synchro Monsters. They tend to have high Levels and low ATK and DEF.
 
Dark Synchro Monster A Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds anime-only Monster Card with a dark gray border around the card's properties that uses blue stars that are actually negative.
 
Dark Synchro Summon The act of sending a Dark Tuner monster and non-Tuner monsters to the Graveyard. Unlike regular Synchro Monsters, their Levels are subtracted to obtain the negative Level of the Dark Synchro Monster. (For example, a Level 5 Dark Tuner minus a Level 10 non-Tuner equals a -5 Dark Synchro Monster).
 
Dark Synchro Material Any monsters used to Dark Synchro Summon Dark Synchro Monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds anime.
 
Xyz Monster A Monster Card with a black and night sky-like border surrounding the card's main properties. These cards have Ranks instead of Levels, meaning that cards that apply to Levels don't affect these cards. Their Rank is on the left side of the card and they require at least 2 Xyz Materials for their Xyz Summon (see Xyz Summon)
 
Xyz Material A Monster Card (or sometimes non-Monster Card) that is used to Xyz Summon an Xyz Monster. These are generally placed perpendicular to the Xyz Monster's battle position and are not considered to be on the field. Thus, any effects that would activate when the card is sent from the field to the Graveyard cannot be used.
 
Xyz Summon The act of using 1 or more Monster Cards (or sometimes non-Monster Cards) to bring out an Xyz Monster from your Extra Deck.
 
Pendulum Monster A Monster Card that functions as both a regular monster and a Spell Card with an effect that applies to each function in use.
 
Pendulum Scale The numbers on either side of the Pendulum Effect/Pendulum Text for a Pendulum Monster that are the key to Pendulum Summons.
 
Pendulum Effect The effect in between the numbers for the Pendulum Scale that is applied when the Pendulum Monster is in a Pendulum Zone
 
Pendulum Zone A designated zone in 2 of the 5 Spell & Trap Card Zones for activating Pendulum Monsters. Previously, they had their own designated zones outside of the main field.
 
Pendulum Summon The act of a player Special Summoning 1 or more monsters from the hand at the same time whose Level is between the numbers for their Pendulum Monsters' Pendulum Scales. Although it's a Special Summon, which is generally unrestricted in terms of how many times per turn it can be conducted, Pendulum Summons are only once per turn.
 
Link Rating The number that occupies the space where a Link Monster's DEF would be that shows how many monsters are needed to Link Summon the monster normally.
 
Link Arrows The orange and yellow arrows around a Link Monster's card artwork border that indicate open zones on the field where a player can Summon monsters to. (This is generally only relevent with monsters that are Special Summoned from the Extra Deck.) These arrows coincide with the Link Monster's Link Rating (see Link Rating).
 
Link Monster A Monster Card with a similar blue to Ritual Monsters but with a hexagonal pattern that makes up the border around the card's main properties and Link Arrows that designate open zones for Extra Deck and other monsters to be played to. These monsters also have a Link Rating instead of DEF, making it impossible for Link Monsters to be in Defense Mode (see Link Rating).
 
Extra Monster Zone One of two designated zones above the Main Monster Zones where players initially Special Summon monsters from the Extra Deck. Typically, each player only gets 1 but there may be instances where 1 player can get both.
 
Main Monster Zone 1 of 5 zones above the Spell & Trap Card Zones where Monsters from the hand, Main Deck or Graveyard are played. This was previously called a Monster Card Zone and used to allow monsters from anywhere in the player's possession to be played, including the Extra Deck.
 
Spell & Trap Card Zone 1 of 5 zones underneath the Main Monster Zones where Spell, Trap and (in recent years) Pendulum Monster Cards are Set or played from the hand (see also Pendulum Zone).
 
Equip Card Any card that is being equipped to a Monster Card on the field. Monster Cards in the Spell & Trap Card Zone are counted as Equip Cards unless stated otherwise.
Fan-Created Terms
Pop The act of destroying a card(s) on the field by a card's effect.
 
Spin The act of returning a card(s) on the field to the top of the Deck by a card's effect.
 
Summoning Sickness A Monster Card whose effect prevents the monster from attacking the turn it is Summoned.
 
Bounce The act of returning a card(s) on the field to the owner's hand by a card's effect.
 
Overlay The act of performing an Xyz Summon. This is in some ways a reference to the Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal anime's calling Xyz Materials "Overlay Units" or ORU. You may also hear "Stack" being used instead but it's the same thing.
 
Search The act of using a card's effect to search for another one. Cards that search are often specific on what cards to search for, some to the point of listing the card's name.
 
Detach The act of removing an Xyz Material from underneath an Xyz Monster as per a card's effect. It could also be used to describe unequipping Union Monsters by a card's effect too.
 
Jank A card that is nearly or completly unplayable. This is generally associated with Commons.
 
Scoop The act of one player forfeiting a Duel to the other player. This is generally done when one player has no answers to the other player's current field setup, though in light of Victory Dragon, it had more serious implications (see Match Winner).
 
Nomi Monster A Monster Card whose effect has summoning requirements to be met that cannot be Special Summoned from the Graveyard later.
 
Semi-Nomi Monster A Monster Card whose effect has summoning requirements to be met that can be Special Summoned from the Graveyard later.
 
Beatstick A Monster Card whose ATK is high for its Level (such as a Level 6 monster with 2600 ATK).
 
Burn The act of inflicting effect damage to a player(s) Life Points by a card's effect.
 
Stack The act of setting up your Deck a certain way to draw cards you need early. While it can be also associated with Xyz Summoning, it is more used when somone thinks the opponent may have arranged the cards of their Deck to gain an advantage. It is not legal to do this in tournaments.
 
Tag Out The act of using a Gladiator Beast monster's effect to shuffle itself into the Deck or Extra Deck to bring out one or more Gladiator Beast monsters in return.
 
Topdeck The act of drawing a card during a Duel that significantly changes the state of the duel in the favor of that player, either to improve their odds of victory or to give them victory as a whole.
 
Overhyped A card whose popularity is not supported by the minority of players.
 
Generic A card that either isn't specific to a Deck or a Synchro Monster with non-specific Synchro Materials.
 
Crash The act of attacking an Attack Position monster the opponent controls with the same ATK as a monster the current player controls in attempt to destroy both monsters.
 
Broken A card that is deemed much too powerful for gameplay. Generally these cards are high rarity but this isn't always the case.
 
Plus/Pluses The act of gaining extra cards through card effects. This generally happens with either drawing cards or Summoning monsters for little, if any drawback. It is stated along the lines of "+2" or "gets a +2".
 
Backrow A term to describe a player's Spell and Trap Cards on their field that are active or Set.
 
Hand Trap A card (usually an Effect Monster) whose effect activates by discarding itself from the hand in order to disrupt an opponent's strategy in some fashion.
 
Other Some terms are based on the card that uses it.
Break: The act of using Breaker the Magical Warrior's effect on a Spell or Trap Card on the field. This is usally declared something like "Breaker break".

My Terms
Archetype Bias A card whose effects only allow combos with other members of its Archetype. I typically associate this with Pendulum Monsters whose Pendulum Effects say "You cannot Pendulum Summon monsters, except "X" monsters.", though sometimes they allow more than one Archetype to be Pendulum Summoned. However, they are generally much more restrained.
 
Trash Rare A Super Rare or higher card whose effect makes the card nearly or completely unplayable.
 
Honest Target Monster Cards with a LIGHT Attribute that work with Honest's effect.
 
Searchable Monster Cards that are capable of being searched by monsters like Sangan and Witch of the Black Forest.
 
Crippled Cards that have text so drastically updated that it generally renders the card unplayable where it was previously either playable or broken/overpowered.
 
Copy-Paste Deck A Deck that is copied entirely or almost entirely from someone else to use in tournaments. (This has become quite common these days unfortunately).
 
Terms of Service The part of a card's effect that says how the card is played.