Auctioneer’s Chant

All about the Auctioneer Chant

The chant - that rapid-fire, quick-cadence combination of numbers, words and sounds that keeps an auction clipping along - is one of the most identifiable features of auctions and auctioneers.

Fascinating, sure. Remarkable, undoubtedly. Exciting, obviously. But what the chant is in its simplest form is communication. It's an auctioneer's way of telling bidders what they need to know regarding the sale of a particular item at its time of sale. And, because an auctioneer's job is to sell the most amount of property quickly, the chant is frequently fast.

In its simplest terms, the chant is merely a series of numbers connected by "filler" words to give the buyer time to think between bids.

The rhythmic chant, developed over the years, is a way of creating excitement and moving an auction at a steady pace. No one seems to know for certain when or where the rhythmic chant used by most North American auctioneers originated. It just seems to have evolved out of necessity as auctioneers saw the need to sell items in a more rapid manner. Unlike other types of sales, an auction is a one-time event where all the customers are present at the same time. Thus, the auctioneer is responsible for selling all the items within a few hours, and his or her use of the chant helps keep the items moving.

A basic auctioneer chant goes something like this:

  • One dollar bid, now 2,
  • now 2, will you give me 2?
  • Two dollar bid, now 3,
  • Now 3, will you give me 3?
  • Three dollar bid, now 4,
  • Now 4, will you give me 4?

The filler words are everything except the numbers. Filler words are used to remind buyers of the last number bid and to give buyers time to consider whether they want to bid higher. Think of filler words as carriers -- the filler words "carry" the numbers, which are the most important part of the chant. Using filler words that connect and roll, auctioneers create a steady rhythm in their chants. The rhythm enables the crowd to listen longer and faster by keeping the bids at regular intervals. This helps the bidders know what to expect next and to keep the bids coming at a constant pace.

The above information was provided by the:

National Auctioneers Association -