I know there is a word for this!

Person A is a seller. Person B is a buyer.

Person A is worried Person B will take the her product and not pay. Person B is worried of the inverse.

These two hire an unbiased Person C to mediate the transaction by taking the money from Person B and products from Person A and only releasing either item when both items are held by him.

Many words that seem like they would work, such as mediator, seem to be very general: "to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement."

I am hoping there is a more specific term for this situation.

  • Intermediary?
    – J.R.
    Oct 8, 2013 at 2:30
  • @cbronson Just to clarify, are you looking for a word for the middleman, the circumstance, or the transaction?
    – user867
    Oct 8, 2013 at 3:14
  • Sorry I wasn't home and couldn't answer! I am looking for the word for the middleman
    – cbronson
    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:24

3 Answers 3


The closest I can think of is escrow. It refers to giving money to a trusted third party, who holds it (in escrow) until goods or services are delivered. I have never heard it applied to holding goods as well, but see no reason why it shouldn’t be.

  • 1
    +1 The person who holds the money or goods in escrow is called an escrow agent. Documents and things are routinely held in escrow.
    – bib
    Oct 8, 2013 at 3:33
  • Generally courts and governments act as person C during property disputes. Escrow comes close but I am not sure an Escrow Agent is also the one that brokers/negotiates peace between two disputed parties.
    – user52023
    Oct 8, 2013 at 3:48
  • Internet Escrow is the exact word that I was looking for, thanks for this!
    – cbronson
    Oct 8, 2013 at 4:30

I think the word you are looking for is "broker."

Wikipedia: A broker is an individual or party (brokerage firm) that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed.

It can be both a noun and a verb.

Broker - noun - a person who buys and sells goods or assets for others.

verb - arrange or negotiate (a settlement, deal, or plan)

  • A broker is someone who brings about a transaction (she usually either brings a party or an asset to the deal or puts parties in touch with another party or asset provider). The OP is looking for a post-deal escrow agent. The broader term honest broker is sometimes used to characterize an uninterested party in general, but in this case, not appropriate.
    – bib
    Oct 8, 2013 at 3:36

A newer variant could be "middleman". It is used in many virtual trades where A wants to pay in real money for B's virtual item (game / game time / cosmetic items, whatever) but of course no one wants to send their items first, then they ask a reputable middleman to hold both items and then trade with both of them.

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