Share this entry

auction Line breaks: auc|tion
Pronunciation: /ˈɔːkʃ(ə)n/

Definition of auction in English:


1A public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder: the books are expected to fetch a six-figure sum at tomorrow’s auction
More example sentences
  • They were going to sell her TV and furniture at a public auction.
  • Sales through public auctions could begin as early as the beginning of next year.
  • The well-established tradition for farmers to take the livestock for sale to their local auction market is now under threat.
1.1 [mass noun] The action or process of selling something to the highest bidder: the Ferrari sold at auction for £10 million
More example sentences
  • This was because after her death, her collection was sold at auction and only a few items remained or were bought back.
  • A copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic has been sold at auction for almost 400,000 euros.
  • The valuables could be identified immediately if a thief tries to sell them at auction.
2 Bridge The part of the play in which players bid to decide the contract in which the hand shall be played.
Example sentences
  • Each player bids until one wins the auction and gets the contract.
  • Each hand begins with an auction in which players can bid a contract that they are prepared to play.
  • The player who prevailed in the auction becomes declarer, and the final bid determines the contract.


[with object] Back to top  
Sell or offer for sale at an auction: the painting was auctioned at Christie’s
More example sentences
  • The amount obtained by auctioning the paintings will be contributed to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
  • I wonder if Christie's, where he is deputy chairman, will be auctioning the painting?
  • He added that many of the paintings had not been auctioned before which made them particularly attractive to collectors.


Late 16th century: from Latin auctio(n-) 'increase, auction', from the verb augere 'to increase'.

  • The way in which bids increase in an auction is embodied in the word's origin, as it comes from Latin auctio ‘an increase’, from augere ‘to increase’, also the source of augment (Late Middle English) and author.

Definition of auction in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day exemplum
Pronunciation: ɪɡˈzɛmpləm
an example or model...