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Over 700 finance terms, Shmooped to perfection.
See realized gain.
When you have an unrealized gain, you own something (a stock, maybe), and if you sold it today you'd make a profit or gain from it. But you don't sell—so that gain is unrealized.
You bought 1,000 shares of Planar Televisions for $2 a share; the stock now trades for $12 a share. You've made 10 bucks a share. But you haven't sold the shares yet. As it sits in your brokerage account now, this nice gain of 10 grand is "unrealized."