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In securities trading, we have a particular term which I think has broader applicability, so I'm seeking a more common (or at least more universally comprehensible) term for it, that I can use in casual conversation (outside the industry).

The term is penny-jumping, and applied literally, means "taking advantage of the knowledge that someone else's order will move the market, by placing a similar order at a trivially improved price ahead of his", thus "riding his wave" to your benefit and his expense.

But we apply it more liberally than that: it essentially means a kind of obnoxious parasitism¹, and apply it to a variety of situations.

More common example:

Imagine standing on the curb for 15 minutes trying to hail a cab, only to have another person jump in front of you (by a few feet or a single block), and flag "your" cab down at the last minute. While you've waited for 15 minutes, they've only had to wait a few seconds, and they were able to benefit (to your detriment) by making only a trivial "improvement" over your "bid" (those few feet they stepped out in front of you).

Of course, the analogy isn't perfect, but analogies rarely are, and that's how we use it.

Another term of art for this, in the industry, is front-running (though the nuances are different and front-running more explicitly refers to the illegal practice) , though I think penny-jumping captures the same idea more descriptively: the parasite jumps ahead of you for a cost which is trivial to him (a penny), thereby capturing an outsized reward at your expense.


¹ If done using non-public information, particularly information derived from a privileged relationship with a client (to whom you owe a fiduciary duty), penny-jumping is illegal and is usually termed "front-running" (which is the name of the crime, historically committed by brokers who intermediate between clients and markets). But I'm not concerned with this sense of the word; I'm seeking something which is sleazy and obnoxious, not illegal or fraudulent: think "parasite", not "criminal".

  • Related:english.stackexchange.com/questions/79572/… – user66974 Aug 4 '14 at 20:17
  • Thanks - this certainly is a form of exploitation or opportunism, but it's more specific than that. The key element is taking advantage of someone else by paying a trivial incremental cost. One young colleague of mine says they call it "upstreaming" in the South, which is in accord with "front-running". – Dan Bron Aug 4 '14 at 20:30
  • Jud Frying? And two bits. And two bits! – choster Aug 4 '14 at 21:06
  • Gazumping is not too dissimilar. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 4 '14 at 21:54
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    I'm deleting my comments, lovely chatting to you about the Chicago Civic Opera Building (I don't think I'll ever forget that name). It was fun! – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '16 at 0:52
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Gazump has the definitions:

gazump

(UK) To swindle; to extort.

(UK, Australia, real estate) To raise the selling price of something (especially property) after previously agreeing to a lower one.

(UK, Australia, real estate) To buy a property by bidding more than the price of an existing, accepted offer.

(UK, Australia) To trump or preempt; to reap the benefit underhandedly from a situation that someone else has worked to create.
[Wiktionary]

The fourth listed certainly corresponds to OP's request, but I'd say that the third is by far the commonest usage.

Here are some non-house-buying examples from the internet:

Offered what was asked but got gazumped:

'I Offered an ebay seller what he stated on the ad , but then find out he has sold it to someone else, which means this was an auction not a classified add, I wasted my time' [sic]

.........

United gazumped by City in race for £18m midfielder

.........

It Looks Like The Pharmacists Have Just Gazumped the Docs.

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    +1, especially for the 4th definition. We don't have "gazump" here in the States, but it fits the bill perfectly - maybe I can popularize it. I'll accept this answer in a couple of days unless someone can ... gazump it. – Dan Bron Aug 4 '14 at 22:26
  • I'll also say the soccer (football!) example is a clear example of being outbid: Manchester City more than doubled Manchester United's offer. That is, United wasn't gazumped, they were simply trumped. – Dan Bron Aug 4 '14 at 22:29
  • Your jokes are as bad as ours. To be honest, I've never come across an example of the 4th sense here, but the 3rd is widely used. Apparently, conveyancing laws in Scotland are so sensible that they largely prevent it; perhaps that's also why the word doesn't occur in the States? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 4 '14 at 22:32
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    @DanBron There’s something about words with “z” in them that makes them EZ to use for special surprise effects: shazzam, kazoo, zap, zing, zowie — and of course, BAZINGA! – tchrist Aug 5 '14 at 3:19

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