What Is a Nouns NFT? The Nouns DAO Project You Should Know About

Chris KochChris Koch
What Is a Nouns NFT? The Nouns DAO Project You Should Know About

A Nouns NFT avatar is a staple of the NFT space and a must-have piece for many of the top NFT collectors. Desired as a collector's item first, Nouns NFTs also act as a membership pass to the exclusive Nouns DAO, a decentralized organization made up of Noun holders.

The first Nouns NFT was put up for auction on Aug. 8, 2021 and every 24 hours since that day, one Noun has been auctioned off via the self-sufficient Nouns Auction smart contract. This is a radically different approach in the NFT space where most other NFT project drops masses of NFTs onto the market all at once.

In fact, Nouns are so exclusive and so sought-after that even a derivative fork called Lil Nouns has gained real traction.

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What Is a Nouns NFT?

So, what exactly is a Nouns NFT? Similar to CryptoPunks, each Noun is a 32x32 pixelated avatar made up of a combination of different backgrounds, bodies, accessories, heads, and signature Nouns glasses. Each Noun NFT grants membership and one governance vote to the Nouns DAO.

Nouns NFT Traits

Nouns traits consist of 234 different heads, 137 accessories, 30 bodies, 21 glasses, and 2 backgrounds. There are no two Nouns that look alike. The Nouns are a CC0 project, which means the artwork is in the public domain and the founders waive all rights to the artwork.

The assortment of traits is completely random with no code that specifies any one trait to be rarer than another. This makes each trait equally rare.

Nouns are stored directly on the Ethereum blockchain as on-chain NFTs, meaning they do not rely on storage solutions like IPFS to ensure the metadata is managed appropriately. This is possible because each Noun part is compressed and stored on-chain using a form of lossless compression called custom run-length encoding (RLE).

Nouns NFT Mint and Auctions

Through the Nouns Auction Contract, Nouns are randomly generated based on Ethereum block hashes. Each time an auction is settled, the settlement transaction also causes a new Noun to be minted and a new 24-hour auction to begin.  The current trait generation algorithm can be changed through the Noun Seeder contract which is controlled or locked by the Nouns DAO.

What Are Lil Nouns?

With the massive success of Nouns NFTs, it seemed only a matter of time before a derivative project appeared. One derivative project that has gained real traction is called Lil Nouns, and they aim to expand the Nouns ecosystem by creating a new layer.

Lil Nouns was founded by @0xsvg and @adelidusiam. The Lil Nouns are identical to Nouns in terms of traits, except that they’re smaller. The other main difference is a Lil Noun is auctioned off every 15 minutes rather than every 24 hours. Other than these factors, the Lil Nouns are nearly an exact copy of Nouns with a nearly identical website, mint contract, and DAO structure.

What Is the Nouns DAO?

At the heart of the Nouns' ecosystem is the Nouns DAO. The DAO is like an exclusive club that all holders become a part of when they acquire a Noun.

The single greatest benefit of the Nouns DAO is its control over the Nouns DAO Treasury. This treasury receives 100% of the ETH proceeds from every Nouns auction sale, with the exception that every tenth Noun for the first five years goes directly to the multi-sig wallet of the Nouns DAO founders or ‘Nounders’ as they’re called.

Every Noun held equals one vote in the governing body of the Nouns DAO, which utilizes a fork of Compound Governance. This governing body has control over the decisions of the Nouns DAO treasury. The more Nouns one holds, the greater the power over the treasury. That said, every vote also gets diluted every 24 hours when a new Noun is auctioned off.

The Nounders (Nouns Founders) have given themselves a special veto right to ensure that no malicious proposals can be passed while the Noun supply is still low. This precaution is unlikely to ever be needed unless an obviously harmful governance proposal has been passed.

Who Created Nouns NFTs?

As mentioned, the group that created Nouns NFTs is called the Nounders. These are the 10 builders that initiated the project. Many are well known in the NFT space, most notably the founder of CyrpToadz @gremplin, @punk4156, and Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof).

The full list of Nouns Founders is as follows:

These 10 founders share control of the multi-sig wallet that receives every tenth Noun released for the first five years.

Nouns DAO Proposals

The Nouns have no defined roadmap but rather operate via proposals made by the Nouns DAO. These proposals can range from using treasury funds to create a Nouns coffee brand to donating to charities, though most Nouns DAO proposals are focused on expanding the Nouns IP. 

There are a total of 90 proposals that have been introduced by the Nouns DAO at the time of writing. A majority of them have been approved by voters. Some notable proposals have resulted in the creation of the Nouns Mobile App, the signing of a professional esports team, and the creation of a Nouns Comic. Many other proposals have been executed for charitable donations, Nouns events, and Nouns art projects and displays.


The Nouns DAO and its holder base grow organically every day thanks to its unique daily minting process. As the project and IP grow, we'll be sure to update our article with all the latest from the Nouns NFT project.

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