Bonds are a notoriously arduous asset class to know while you scratch beneath the floor. It doesn’t assist that the bond world speaks in its personal unfamiliar language – one festooned with particular bond phrases which are arduous to be taught should you’re an outsider.

Our treatment is that this fast information to the principle bond jargon you should know. We’ll add extra over time, to make this jargon buster a companion to our bond articles.

Bond phrases to know

Bond market rates of interest

‘Rates of interest’ within the context of bonds doesn’t seek advice from the central financial institution rates of interest we’re used to. As a substitute, we’re speaking in regards to the charges that prevail throughout the bond market.

Each bond is topic to a ‘market’ rate of interest – which is the return buyers demand for locking up their cash in that exact bond at the moment.

Traders specific their demand by way of their selections to purchase and promote.

Market charges fluctuate in-line with financial knowledge. Modifications to inflation expectations, a bond’s credit standing, its maturity date, and sure, central financial institution rates of interest – all this and extra feeds into market rates of interest.


A bond’s principal is the unique worth of the mortgage made to the bond issuer. When the bond matures, the principal is paid again to whoever owns the bond on that date.

Principal can be referred to as par worth, nominal worth, or face worth. The usual face worth of a UK gilt is £100. 

Coupon price

The fastened rate of interest paid by a bond. For instance, a bond with a 4% coupon pays £4 per 12 months on its principal of £100.

Maturity date 

The day the bond debt is lastly cleared. On that day the issuer pays the bondholder the face worth of the bond. The parcel of debt it represents is cancelled out – the bond is redeemed.


Yield-to-maturity (YTM) is a bond’s anticipated annualised return should you maintain it to maturity (ignoring prices). This yield takes into consideration the bond’s present worth, and assumes all remaining coupon funds are reinvested on the similar yield.

A person bond’s yield-to-maturity frequently adjusts to mirror market rates of interest as buyers commerce.

The mechanism is:

  • When a bond’s market rate of interest rises, its worth falls. (Traders require a larger incentive to carry this bond – therefore costs drop.)
  • When a bond’s market rate of interest falls, its worth rises. (Traders are extra keen to carry this bond – therefore they’ll pay extra.)
  • When a bond’s worth falls, its yield-to-maturity rises. (The worth fall causes the yield to extend to match the upper market rate of interest). 
  • When a bond’s worth rises, its yield-to-maturity falls. (The worth rise causes the yield to lower to match the decrease market rate of interest). 

This piece helps clarify what happens to bonds when interest rates rise and fall. 

YTM is the go-to metric to make use of when evaluating comparable bonds (for instance gilts) that change by worth, maturity date, and coupon.

There are various forms of bond yield. However we’re often speaking about YTM once we use the time period ‘yield’ in an article on Monevator.

Nominal / standard bond

The usual sort of bond that pays again a hard and fast coupon price and a hard and fast face worth. Nominal bonds distinction with index-linked bonds that make funds in keeping with inflation. Index-linked bonds are additionally referred to as inflation-linked bonds, or ‘linkers’ in the event that they’re gilts and TIPS in the event that they’re the U.S. equal.

Excessive-grade bond 

A bond with a credit standing of AA- and above (or Aa3 in Moody’s system). Usually the highest-quality bonds are authorities bonds. 

Credit standing

This can be a guesstimate of the monetary power of the bond issuer. Meaning for instance the UK and different governments for presidency bonds, or the issuing firm for company bonds.

AAA is the top-notch score. BBB- units the ground for funding grade. Under that’s termed ‘high-yield’ or much less flatteringly ‘junk’.

The upper the credit score high quality score, the higher. It means there’s much less likelihood the issuer will default on funds, in keeping with the bond score companies.

In fact you’ll often have to just accept a decrease yield for a (much less dangerous) increased credit standing.


Modified period is an approximate information to how a lot a bond will achieve or lose in response to a 1% change in its yield. 

For instance, if a bond or bond fund’s period quantity is 8, then it:

  • Loses roughly 8% of its market worth for each 1% rise in its yield
  • Good points roughly 8% for each 1% fall in its yield

Macaulay period is the typical time (in years) it takes to obtain your whole bond’s money flows (coupons and principal). It additionally tells you the way lengthy it takes to recoup a bond’s worth.

Macaulay period particularly is a complicated concept for non-financial wonks to wrap their heads round. However fortunately, you don’t actually need to.

Period as used to explain rate of interest sensitivity is the extra necessary of the bond phrases right here for on a regular basis buyers as a result of it gives perception into how wildly your bond or fund’s worth might change as charges fluctuate. 

Macaulay period turns into related should you apply period matching – which we’ll cowl in an upcoming two-parter. 

Rate of interest danger

Right here the danger is that an antagonistic transfer in bond rates of interest causes losses. This danger decomposes into two parts:

  • Worth danger
  • Reinvestment danger

Worth danger

Worth danger materialises when bond rates of interest rise and trigger your bond’s worth to drop, inflicting a capital loss. 

Reinvestment danger

When market rates of interest fall, bond yields fall. Reinvested cashflows now earn a decrease yield which erodes your annualised return over time.  

Different bond phrases that confound YOU

Time for a little bit of crowdsourcing! We all know that many readers are confused by bonds, so is there any specific jargon you’d wish to see included on this information?

Tell us within the feedback beneath and we’ll add it to the information.

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