To sell stock in a company for which one works in order to raise the necessary funds to exercise an employee stock option. Because employee stock options allow one to buy shares at a discount, selling to cover usually allows one come out of the activity with more shares than when he/she started. If this is not the case, the employee usually does not exercise the stop option. The SEC may restrict to the extent to which one may sell to cover through its rules against insider trading, among other restrictions.
The selling of sufficient stock acquired through an incentive stock option to cover the total exercise cost of the remaining shares. For example, an employee might exercise options for 800 shares at a cost of $30 per share when the market price of the stock is $60. The employee would sell 400 shares at the market price to cover the cost of the remaining 400 shares.