Let's assume that I am selling an apple. I haven't decided what price it should be sold at. And you want to buy the apple so you bargain with me. You could have bought it with $1, but you want to save more, so you ask me :"could I buy this apple with $0.5"? If I say "no", then you will further say "how about $1?"—— in a word, you don't make your best offer at the first time. You hide your real proposal behind for less cost.

Is there any word to express such behaviour ?

Update: Well, I didn't expecte so many people answered this question~ I have read all the answers. All of them are not wrong. It's my fault that I didn't describe my question clear enough. So I now add more details.

Actually, I ask this question because when trading, I always stand on my bottom line to make my best offer——If I think an item is worth $10, I will propse an offer that worth $10 and if I am asked to pay more, I will decline. While some traders hide their bottom line. For example, one may think my item is worth $10, and he attempt to exchange his item worth $5 for mine. However if I ask more, he would also accept my proposal, i.e., he doesn't make his offer best at the begining. I hate such behaviour but I don't know how to describe it. Here I learn the word "bottom line" from the accepted answer, so I can write a sentence on my trading profile: "Stand on your bottom line to make your best offer, please." Perfect.

As for the words "haggling", "bartering", "negotiating", etc... I think they have the similar meaning and can all answer my original question well, but didn't meet my real intention, which I didn't describe clear previously. I appologize for that, and thanks all~

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    You've gotta haggle. But in my experience, Anglophones in general don't like haggling - they'd rather deal with a fixed price. Which is only sensible really, since the person you'd usually be haggling with is probably a full-time professional trader (so he's practically bound to be better at negotiating prices than you are! :) Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 17:50
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    @Rich, I thought bartering explicitly means transactions that don't involve money.
    – Kirk Woll
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 15:22
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    Just supplementing the answers below and the comment above: haggle is probably the correct term you're looking for above all else, and note that it can be used both as a verb ("John haggled the price down to a dollar.") and a noun ("They arrived at an unusually high price after an hour-long haggle.") However, keep in mind that "haggle" carries a slightly negative connotation to some readers, indicating that perhaps the haggler (person who haggles) was being cheap or, in some extreme cases, that they did not have enough money to begin with, though one might argue that's extreme. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 22:36
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    Conversely, negotiate (verb) or negotiation (noun) are more formal terms for "haggling", with one major difference: it is generally implied that haggling is an attempt to lower a price, whereas a negotiation is a much broader (and much more neutral/formal) term for discussing the terms of an agreement. When used in terms of price ("Jack and Jill are negotiating the price of the car.") it implies that the price could move up or down and neither party is implied to be greedy or cheap to any degree just by using the term by itself. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 22:38
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    @Qix - MONICA WAS MISTREATED yeah, I know what "barter" means, since the name of the platform where I trade my game activation codes with others contains the word "barter", and I also learn some relative words like "low-ball", "counter" there :D. I had always thought that "low-ball offer" means "absolutely ridiculous offer", and now I learn that it can be just a "not very good offer". Cool.
    – vainquit
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 16:36

5 Answers 5


I do not think there is a particular word or common idiom in English for this idea exactly.

The closest I can think is "lowball offer" — this works on the buyer's side as you describe. I don't think there is a corresponding term for if the seller starts with a higher-than-really-expected number.*

However, there's a fine line here: a lowball offer may also just be a bad offer, or an insulting one. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's understood to be just a ploy. So, it's not really a general term for what you're describing.

The expression "opening offer" is used to refer to the first number put forth (by either party) in a negotiation or bargaining situation. That's usually understood to not be the "final and best offer", or the "bottom line"**, but doesn't really directly imply that the number is inflated.

* A seller can also make a "lowball offer" as part of a bait-and-switch scam where it turns out that that when you go to actually pay the price is suddenly much higher. But that's really a different thing.

** The phrase "bottom line" originally meant the total final result, but because language is messy is often also understood to mean "the minimum I can give or take".

  • I think "bottom line" is what I am looking for :) I will write a setence on my trading profile : "You offer should stand on your bottom line, i.e., you should make your best offer, because I don't like countering offer."
    – vainquit
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 2:40
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    I suspect that if you include in your trading profile the statement "I don't like countering offer", you might end up encouraging people to not make their best offer; they'll think maybe you'll just accept their first offer.
    – Lee Mosher
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 15:56
  • Actually, I think "lowball offer" might be what you want for this situation. "Please, no lowball offers." But, this really works both ways, as Lee says. If you don't want to haggle, the only way to do this is to state your price and say "Price is firm; no negotiations."
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 17:07

What you describe is "haggling".

The person "makes an offer" of $0.50 (and note that that means 50 cents so you need the zero at the end)

In you example the seller "rejects" the offer, but they could have made a "counteroffer" by saying "50 cents is not enough, how about $1.50"

The first person could then "meet in the middle" at $1.

As noted in comments, haggling is not as common. You don't rarely haggle over food or in shops, nor in the market. You might haggle over a car, and there is almost certainly some haggling when you buy a house.

You could also say you were "bargaining" or "negotiating" with the seller. Goods that you are expected to haggle over are said to have "negotiable" prices. If you haggle and achieve a lower price than the seller wanted you have "beaten them down".

So he's selling a '65 Corvette, and it not all that; there's a lotta work that gonna have to be done on it. And he's asking 40,000 for it, well there's no way I'm not gonna haggle. So I hit him with 16. He says he can't do that but comes down to 30. So now I know he's flexible. I offer 20, cash, and I can see he's tempted, but he says "no, I want 25,000". I offer to split the difference, if he'll throw in delivery. And we shake on that. So that's pretty sweet. I got a Corvette for 22,500 that I know I can flip for 30, maybe 35,000 and he's paying to have it towed. I'm in."



to argue with someone, especially about the price of goods:

Cambridge on-line

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    I'm not sure this is a word most English speakers would understand (at least in AmE). It also has a high probability to be misunderstood as a derivative of an offensive word
    – PC Luddite
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 2:17
  • @PCLuddite other way around; it's a quintessentially American word. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dicker . And personally, I don't know any AmE speakers I wouldn't expect to understand it. Still a poor answer, because it refers to petty negotiations generally, not to the haggling the asker refers to.
    – fectin
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 22:20
  • @fectin that is certainly not a common word here in the Midwest. I wouldn't expect anyone i know to know it. I could see it potentially being an east coast thing, but even that I'm not confident.
    – PC Luddite
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 15:51

hmm. so many points to make (and it is very dysfunctional not to be able to reply/respond to individual comments) so ... ESL audience?

  1. 'don't' in Subject is very bad English ... 'doesn't' pls.

  2. yes, i believe that 'barter' was/is meant to be bargaining/exchanging in goods only (not money) eg 1 doz eggs for 2lb tomatoes (it doesn't have to be food)

  3. whereas 'haggle' is specifically a discussion between buyer and seller about the selling price, with an implication of some acrimony; while 'bargaining' (and 'negotiating' is even more formal about much larger items and and often contracts) means much the same without the 'coarser' idiom or negative nuance.

  4. 'low-ball offer' by definition ('offer') is only made by a prospective buyer, never seller; hence expressions such as 'he low-balled me', meaning what could/would be regarded as an excessively low offer

  5. 'bottom line' would usually only be asked of a seller by a buyer ie "What is your bottom line?" meaning lowest price he/she would take. ['bottom line is also used idiomatically in other contexts: its non-idiomatic meaning is in the accounts of any business - the 'bottom line' being how much money (profit) that the business made (over a period) because in a 'chart of accounts' there is a progressive calculation (of costs and income) down the page/s, and the literal 'bottom line' is the net result ie profit (or loss).

  6. "Stand on your bottom line to make your best offer, please." is quite incorrect wording and confusing phrasing/terminology. Thinking of the meaning i think you intended, and adding some colloquialism for context, just "Please don't muck me around (or waste my time): please just give me your best offer up-front." possibly followed by "I'm sorry, that is a really low-ball offer, i can't possibly accept that! look, i can't possibly take less (ie bottom-line) than $xxx for cash, and that's a bargain. if you match that, i will take it for a quick sale."

  7. similarly "You offer should stand on your bottom line, i.e., you should make your best offer, because I don't like countering offer."

  • Emm, I just know that "bottom line" would usually only be asked by a buyer. So isn't there a word similar to "bottom line" to describe the highest price the buyer would pay?
    – vainquit
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 8:07

You could have bought it with $1, but you want to save more, so you ask me :"could I buy this apple with $0.5"?

This is called bidding or making a bid. It is usually done in competition with other bidders for the same item, but it doesn't have to be.

Also "to make an offer" or simply "to offer".

You: How much is that apple?

Seller: $1

You: I'll make you an offer of 50c.

(1): to offer (a price) whether for payment or acceptance The contractor bid $10,000 less than his nearest competitor. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bid

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