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[awk-shuh n] /ˈɔk ʃən/
Also called public sale. a publicly held sale at which property or goods are sold to the highest bidder.
  1. auction bridge.
  2. (in bridge or certain other games) the competitive bidding to fix a contract that a player or players undertake to fulfill.
verb (used with object)
to sell by auction (often followed by off):
He auctioned off his furniture.
Origin of auction
1585-95; < Latin auctiōn- (stem of auctiō) an increase, especially in the bidding at a sale, equivalent to auct(us) increased, past participle of augēre (aug- increase + -tus past participle suffix) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
auctionable, adjective
auctionary, adjective
proauction, adjective
unauctioned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for auction
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The instant I bid thirty thousand rubles the auction came to an end.

    A Family of Noblemen Mikhal Saltykov
  • At an order from the praefect the auction sale was abruptly suspended.

    "Unto Caesar" Baroness Emmuska Orczy
  • That community possessed a wide extent of rocky and barren pastures, leased annually by auction for the public good.

  • We were all put up to auction, and the man who bid highest got the man he fancied.

    Across the Spanish Main Harry Collingwood
  • But not only for the debt of passage-money, but for other debts, a white man was put up to auction, and sold to the best bidder.

    Diary in America, Series One Frederick Marryat (AKA Captain Marryat)
British Dictionary definitions for auction


a public sale of goods or property, esp one in which prospective purchasers bid against each other until the highest price is reached Compare Dutch auction
the competitive calls made in bridge and other games before play begins, undertaking to win a given number of tricks if a certain suit is trumps
(transitive) often foll by off. to sell by auction
Word Origin
C16: from Latin auctiō an increasing, from augēre to increase
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for auction

"a sale by increase of bids," 1590s, from Latin auctionem (nominative auctio) "an increasing sale, auction, public sale," noun of action from past participle stem of augere "to increase," from PIE root *aug- "to increase" (see augment). In northern England and Scotland, called a roup. In the U.S., something is sold at auction; in England, by auction.


1807, from auction (n.). Related: Auctioned; auctioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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