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This auction is absolute … we are charging a buyer’s premium … this property has a reserve; the list goes on. Auctioneers use all kinds of “jargon” specific to their industry that the public probably doesn’t always understand.

The solution often offered is to eliminate jargon when possible, and use more easily, commonly used words or phrases. Yet, I wonder if auctioneers continue to use these specific words and phrases, the public could begin to understand, rather than us rephrasing all our industry language?

Jargon is defined as:

Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

My question today is, “Why is this auction jargon difficult for others to understand?” I tend to think it’s because we as auctioneers don’t publicize these terms often enough, aren’t sufficiently consistent and/or don’t make a meaningful impact on the greater media.

In other words, if we as auctioneers did a better job expressing this jargon in a consistent manner — it essentially wouldn’t be jargon anymore. Certainly in rich auction marketing areas of the United States — for example, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky … people seem to well understand these types of auction terms as they’ve grown up hearing them.

Conversely, in less rich auction marketing areas — the western half of the United States for example — it’s understandable that people don’t recognize these auction terms. However over time, will they understand them too? I think so, the more they hear and see them used.

Lastly, auctioneer “jargon” — as in bid calling — has been something people have been fascinated with for centuries, and learned in order to participate in live auctions. In that sense, jargon has been a part of the auction industry for over 2,000 years …

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.