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Is there a one-word term for a person who won the auction? Top bidder comes to my mind, but it's actually two words.

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Why do you need one word? Two seem to suit you just fine. – Matt E. Эллен Jun 13 '12 at 11:11
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The generally adopted term for this is successful bidder as recognized in commercial and, probably also, legal contexts.

Strictly speaking, the highest bidder is considered as the tentative 'winner'. If his bid is technically cleared and no objections are raised, he would be the 'successful bidder'. He may or may not eventually buy -- if he completes the formalities and pays up, he would be the 'buyer'.

A single word may be possible but can be a problem being different from the well-understood phrase.

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Ok, this is pretty descriptive. Also thank you for fetching the commonly used terms. – Elijah Saounkine Jun 13 '12 at 11:48
@ElijahSaounkine Nice to be of help. You could see the logic in using the set phrase, though your need was for a single word! Can you fit in the phrase? – Kris Jun 13 '12 at 11:52
+1 because of highest bidder. – speedyGonzales Jun 13 '12 at 14:37

Buyer? Only the top bidder can actually buy the auction lot.

Winner? There is only one winner (and you actually used the word won yourself).

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I'm not with buyer, the successful bidder may or may not eventually buy. Not winner either -- that sounds inappropriate to me though not sure why. – Kris Jun 13 '12 at 11:24

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