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Axelar Glossary

The purpose of this document is to provide you with a better understanding of the terminology used in the Axelar documentation.

Canonical Interchain Token

A canonical token in blockchain is a standardized representation of a digital asset, such as a cryptocurrency or token, accepted as the standard across multiple blockchains in a network. This standardization ensures consistent behavior and enables interoperability between blockchains, allowing cross-chain transactions and interactions within blockchain networks that support various chains.

In the context of Axelar’s Interchain Token Service, a canonical token is an interchain token built from an existing token that is available on multiple chains. The token deployed to other chains will be a Standardized token, and there can only be one canonical token for every ERC-20.

Custom Token

A custom token in blockchain is a user or organization-created digital asset, such as a cryptocurrency or token, designed to meet specific needs. Unlike standardized tokens, custom tokens are highly customizable, allowing their creators to define unique features, functionalities, and rules. They serve particular use cases within the blockchain ecosystem and offer flexibility.

You can create and deploy a custom ERC-20 token using the Interchain Token Service. Unlike canonical tokens, which are standardized, custom tokens can have unique features and functionality tailored to your specific requirements. It can optionally implement the IInterchainToken interface for transfer methods directly on your token.

Distributor Role

The distributor is a permission role for custom tokens within the Axelar ecosystem. Tokens with distributor permissions can mint (create) and burn (destroy) tokens. This role is essential for managing the token supply and ensuring its proper functioning.

Interchain Token

An Interchain Token is an ERC-20 contract created by the Interchain Token Service or by yourself that can be transferred between blockchains. If the contract implements the IInterchainToken interface, it will have knowledge of its own Token Manager and will contain transfer methods directly. If it does not implement this interface, you will need to call functions on the Token Manager to transfer the token.

Interchain Token Service

Interchain Token Service is a contract deployed by Axelar that manages the creation and management of Interchain Tokens and Token Managers.

The Interchain Token Service has an address of 0xF786e21509A9D50a9aFD033B5940A2b7D872C208 on all testnet chains, deployed from the v0.3.0 release. Deployed addresses can be found here.


Locking and unlocking in the blockchain context pertains to temporarily restricting and restoring the movement or transfer of tokens or assets within blockchain networks.

In the Interchain Token Service, incoming token transfers will result in the local release of locked tokens. Outgoing token transfers will result in the local locking of tokens on this blockchain by the Token Manager.


Minting in blockchain refers to the creation of new tokens, typically increasing the total supply. It serves various purposes, including rewards, transfers, or asset conversion. In contrast, burning involves permanently removing tokens from circulation, reducing the total supply. Burning can have purposes like deflation, supply reduction, or asset destruction within a blockchain network.

In the Interchain Token Service, incoming token transfers will result in the local minting of new tokens on this blockchain by the Token Manager. Outgoing token transfers will result in the local burning of received tokens.


An operator is a designated role or entity with the authority to perform specific actions or configurations within a blockchain network. In Interchain Token Service, the Operator is a role for a Token Manager who can set the flowLimit of this manager to limit the influx/outflux of tokens.


When a token or smart contract is described as “Standardized” in the blockchain context, it follows recognized industry standards, interfaces, or specifications. This adherence to standards ensures that the token or contract behaves consistently and predictably within the blockchain ecosystem. In the Interchain Token Service, it’s a minimal ERC-20 that implements the IInterchainToken and IStandardizedToken interfaces and can be deployed by the service.

Token Manager

A Token Manager is a contract created by the Interchain Token Service capable of locking and releasing tokens or minting and burning them, depending on its type.

Token Managers must be lock/unlock or mint/burn.


A TokenID is a unique identifier that serves as a reference or label for a particular token within a blockchain network. It allows users, smart contracts, or applications to distinguish and interact with specific tokens among many tokens that may exist within the same blockchain ecosystem.

TokenID is the ID of linking between tokens in the interchain token service. You can obtain this either

  • Once for each pre-existing ERC20, as a canonical tokenId (getCanonicalTokenId(address))
  • As an address deployer with a bytes32 salt as a custom tokenId (getCustomTokenId(address, bytes32))
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