Demystifying Auction Terminology: Your In-Depth Guide

Auctions are fascinating events that combine excitement with the thrill of acquiring unique items. However, to fully appreciate the experience, one must grasp the jargon commonly used in this realm. This comprehensive guide demystifies auction terminology with concise descriptions of essential terms:



The charismatic individual orchestrating the auction, responsible for presenting items and facilitating the bidding process.


An offer to purchase an item at a specified price. Bidders raise their bids to compete for the item.

Current Bid:

This is the leading online bid. You will need to bid an amount higher than this, to be in the lead.


The amount your next bid will need to increase by, to put you in the lead. Increments are set by the auctioneer.

Absentee Bid:

A bid placed in advance of the auction, allowing individuals who can’t attend in person to participate.

Timed Bid:

A bid made during a timed auction. You can place a timed bid between the start and end of a timed auction. If you are the highest bidder at the end of the auction (and have met the reserve price), you will win the lot.

Proxy Bidding:

A system in which bidders set their maximum bid, and the auction platform automatically increases their bid incrementally to maintain the lead.

Winning Bidder:

The bidder who places the highest bid and successfully purchases the item, taking ownership after the hammer falls.

Reserve Price/Opening Price:

The minimum price set by the seller. If bidding doesn’t reach this threshold, the item may not be sold.

Hammer Price:

The final price at which an item is sold when the auctioneer’s hammer falls, marking the end of the bidding.


A group of items sold together as a single unit. Bidders place their bids on the entire lot, not individual items within it.

Bulk Lots:

These are lots that contain multiple items. It is important you clearly check the lot title and description before you bid as in some cases your bid price will be multiplied by the number of items in the lot.


A detailed list or brochure that provides descriptions and information about the items to be auctioned. It helps bidders make informed decisions.

Buyer’s Premium:

An additional fee charged to the winning bidder on top of the hammer price. This fee goes to the auction house.

Live Auction:

An event where bidders are physically present, competing with each other directly, making bids by raising paddles or calling out.

Online Auction:

Auctions held on the internet, enabling bidders to participate remotely in real-time through various online platforms.

Timed Auction:

Timed auctions have an auctioneer who sets the time that the lots end, and the size of the increments – there’s just a bidding window and whoever bids highest wins (as long as the reserve’s met). 

Reserve Not Met:

An indicator that the current bid has not reached the seller’s reserve price, meaning the item might not be sold.

No-Reserve Auction:

An auction where there is no minimum price set. Items are sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the final price.

Fair Warning (Live Auctions):

A warning sometimes given by an Auctioneer, or by online notification, letting you know the item is about to sell. This can be used to encourage bidding and basically means if you want to bid, do it fast.


The small wooden or metal hammer the auctioneer uses to declare the sale of an item, often accompanied by the phrase, “Sold!”

Passed (Live Auctions Only):

Confirmation the lot has not sold, most often because the reserve price has not been met.

As Is/As Found/As Seen/All Faults/AF:

A declaration that the item will be sold exactly as it appears, including any faults or imperfections.



A written description of an item’s condition. This is usually provided in the lot description, if the description is unclear, you can contact an auction house using the ‘Ask a question’ button on the lot page.



This guide serves as a valuable resource for anyone interested in attending online equipment auctions, whether as a novice or an experienced bidder. Understanding these terms enhances your ability to navigate the world of online machinery auctions confidently, ensuring a more enjoyable and successful bidding experience. Now, when you’re seeking valuable assets, you’ll be well-equipped to participate in the next online equipment auction with ease and expertise. Happy bidding!


Explore Revelation Auction’s upcoming equipment auctions now or reach out to our auction experts today!