[awk-shuh n]


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 formsauc·tion·a·ble, adjectiveauc·tion·ar·y, adjectivepro·auc·tion, adjectiveun·auc·tioned, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for auction

Contemporary Examples of auction

Historical Examples of auction

  • For such are imported, of course, and sold at auction as they arrive.

    About Orchids

    Frederick Boyle

  • The estate agents run a complimentary special train for people going down to bid, and give a lunch before the auction begins.

  • Although the auction was over, the air of Friendship still vibrated from the stir.

    Mr. Pat's Little Girl

    Mary F. Leonard

  • These grew tired of waiting and many of them went home long before the auction was over.

    Roughing It

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Or he would send the goods to London and sell them by auction; and they would each take half the proceeds.

    Mrs. Thompson

    William Babington Maxwell

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 reachedCompare 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


(tr often foll by off) to sell by auction

Word Origin for auction

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

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