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Short put – Definition, how it works, risks, and example

Options are financial derivatives that give buyers the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price, known as the strike price, before a certain date. A call option allows the purchase of the asset, indicative of a bullish outlook, while a put option allows for the sale, reflecting a bearish stance. Understanding these instruments is crucial for navigating the markets effectively.

Definition of a short put

A short put, also known as writing a put option, involves a trader selling a put option to open a position. The trader receives the option’s premium and is banking on the underlying asset’s price staying above the strike price. If the price remains above the strike, the option expires worthless, and the trader retains the premium.

Short put mechanics and payoff

When initiating a short put, the trader receives an upfront premium and accepts the obligation to buy the underlying asset at the strike price if the buyer exercises the option. Let’s consider a rupee-based example: A trader writes a short put option on Stock X with a strike price of ₹100, receiving a premium of ₹5. If Stock X stays above ₹100, the trader profits by ₹5. However, if it falls to ₹90, the trader still needs to buy it at ₹100, incurring a potential loss.

Payoff table for a short put

Stock X Price at ExpiryTrader’s Profit/Loss
₹110+₹5 (Premium)
₹100+₹5 (Premium)
₹95+₹0 (Break-Even)
₹90-₹5 (Minus Premium)
₹85-₹10 (Minus Premium)

The advantages of selling puts

Writing put options can be advantageous. Firstly, it generates immediate income through the premium. Secondly, it can be a way to purchase the underlying asset at a lower price while being paid to wait. For instance, if a trader wishes to buy Stock X at ₹95 but it’s currently at ₹100, they could write a put option with a strike of ₹95 and collect a premium.

Risks of selling puts

The risk of writing a put is substantial. If Stock X’s price plummets well below the strike price, the put writer is obligated to buy at the higher strike price, leading to a significant loss, especially in the case of a naked put where the trader doesn’t own the underlying asset or a hedging position.

Differences between naked and covered short puts

A naked short put means the trader doesn’t own the underlying stock or a hedge, exposing them to higher risk. A covered short put, by contrast, is when the trader owns the underlying asset or has a hedging position in place, which can offset potential losses.

Visual depiction of short put strategy

Graphs are essential for visualizing the potential outcomes of a short-put strategy. They typically show the profit and loss on the Y-axis and the varying prices of the underlying asset on the X-axis, illustrating how profits and losses change relative to the asset’s price at expiration.


In summary, short puts can serve as a strategic tool for traders looking to capitalize on stable or rising prices of underlying assets. While there is potential for profit through premiums, the risks can be considerable, and understanding both is critical for any options trader.


What is a long put and a short put?

While a short put means to sell a put option, a long put means to buy a put option. A long put gives the option holder the right to sell the asset but no obligation to do so. This is suitable for a bearish trader.

Is the short put bullish or bearish?

Going short on a put option means to sell a put option. This forces the writer to buy the stock if the option holder exercises their selling right. A trader goes short on a put option when he or she has a bullish approach and expects the market price to increase. 

Why buy a put option?

Buying a put option gives the buyer the right to sell the asset at a predetermined price, without an obligation to do so. It is suitable when the option buyer is bearish and expects the market price to decrease. The put option saves the buyer from the loss to price reduction.

What is the maximum loss on a short put?

The loss is unlimited until the stock price reaches 0. The holder will exercise the put option when the stock price in the market decreases. So, the writer must buy the stock at the pre-agreed value even if the stock is available for a lesser price at the market. However, the premium acts as partial compensation.

How do you protect a short put?

A put spread strategy helps cover a short put, where the trader sells a put and buys another put option at a higher strike price, expiring on the same date. So, the trader buys the stock (if the short put is executed) and sells it at a pre-determined value by executing the long put option.

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