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Re: Gazumping--from t he Yiddish="gazump"

Posted by Bruce Kahl on November 19, 2003

In Reply to: Gazumping posted by pdianek on November 18, 2003

: I looked in the archives, no mention of this weird word. What's its origin? In context, from the Guardian: "...evidence of a return of eighties- and late-nineties-style gazumping -- when a seller ditches an agreed buyer in favour of a higher offer from a rival purchaser -- in parts of west London."

From the Word-Detective:

"Gazumping," in the real-estate business, is the despicable practice of a seller agreeing to sell a property to one buyer, and then accepting a higher bid from another buyer and dumping the first buyer. Although this usually happens before the final sale contract is signed, it is still considered highly unethical behavior on the seller's part. While either the seller or the "new" buyer can be said to have "gazumped" the deal, efforts to outlaw the practice have focused, rightly, on the duplicity of the seller. In fact, truly wicked sellers sometimes "gazump" a gullible buyer by inventing an imaginary "second buyer" to extort a higher bid after the deal is struck. No reputable real-estate broker will participate in or tolerate "gazumping," of course.

Before it came to be associated sometime in the late 20th century almost entirely with the traumas of home-buying, "gazumping" meant simply "cheating," especially by raising the price of something just as the buyer was about to pay. You could be "gazumped" by the butcher, the baker, and, if not the candlestick maker, then very likely by your local used car salesman. Opinions vary as to where "gazump" came from, with many authorities tracing it to a Yiddish word "gazumph," meaning "to swindle, overcharge," but this is not certain. We do know that "gazump" or "gazumph" first appeared in the underworld slang of the 1920s, as in this citation from a 1928 British newspaper illustrates: "'Gazoomphing the sarker' is a method of parting a rich man from his money. An article is auctioned over and over again, and the money bid each time is added to it."