General English


  • noun a method of selling goods where people who want to buy compete with each other by saying how much they will offer for something, and the item is sold to the person who makes the highest offer
  • noun a method of selling government stock, where all stock on issue will be sold, and the highest price offered will be accepted, as opposed to tendering
  • verb to sell something at an auction


  • noun a method of selling goods in which people offer bids, and the item is sold to the person who makes the highest offer. Another form is the Dutch auction where the seller names a high price and gradually reduces it until someone makes a bid.
  • verb to sell goods at auction


  • A forum for selling assets to the highest bidder. Potential buyers place competitive bids, and the highest bidder "wins" the auction. The U.S. Treasury holds weekly auctions or 13-week and 26-week Treasury bills. The bills are usually offered at a high price, and the price is reduced until a bidder offers to pay it.


  • noun the selling of rights in a book where publishers offer bids, and the book is sold to the person who makes the highest offer

Real Estate

  • noun a sale of goods or property at which intending buyers bid against one another for individual items, each of which is sold to the bidder offering the highest price

Origin & History of “auction”

The etymological idea underlying auction is that of ‘increasing’ – as the sale proceeds, the price offered goes up. The word comes from Latin auctiō ‘increase’, a noun derived from auct-, the past participial stem of the verb augēre ‘increase’ (source of English augment (15th c.) and author, and related to auxiliary (17th c.) and eke). The sense ‘auction sale’ was already present in Latin.