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In finance, short selling (also known as shorting or going short ) is the practice of selling securities or other financial instruments that are not currently owned (usually borrowed), and subsequently repurchasing them ("covering"). In the event of an interim price decline, the short seller profits, since the cost of (re)purchase is less than the proceeds received upon the initial (short) sale. Conversely, the short position closes out at a loss if the price of a shorted instrument rises prior to repurchase.
1580s, the short "the result, the total," from short (adj.). Meaning "electrical short circuit" first recorded 1906 (see short circuit ). Meaning "contraction of a name or phrase" is from 1873 (as in for short ). Slang meaning "car" is attested from 1897; originally "street car," so called because street cars (or the rides taken in them) were "shorter" than railroad cars.