Definition of bargain in US English:



  • 1An agreement between two or more parties as to what each party will do for the other.

    ‘the extraconstitutional bargain between the northern elite and the southern planters’
    • ‘The community's part of the bargain is to keep funding the dialysis project, which Sarah Brown says is already producing results.’
    • ‘Freedom of contract demands that the parties make their own bargain and fix the economic values of their exchange, the parties thereby running the risk of concomitant loss or gain.’
    • ‘The Accord was a bargain between unions and government.’
    • ‘It is far from sure that one can define bargaining power, or compare the bargaining power of two parties independently of the bargains they in effect reach.’
    • ‘Bosses say that the firefighters are dragging their heels over their side of the bargain, an agreement to adopt more modern working practices.’
    • ‘But, of course, it would have been possible to modify the arrangements envisaged in the legal ruling by means of a bargain between the parties.’
    • ‘Gauthier argues that it is the outcome that minimizes the maximum relative concessions of each party to the bargain.’
    • ‘Competent leaders have always understood the crucial difference between public proclamations and private bargains.’
    • ‘But the strategic goal should be not to arrange bargains but to define the big problems in ways that are of mutual interest.’
    • ‘Filled with gratitude to God for having healed him, he realized that, as a result of the bargains and promises he made, he was now on his way to becoming a much better human being.’
    • ‘The deal failed partly because of the actions of one of the principals, but also because of actions of those not party to the bargain.’
    • ‘My side of the bargain is that I promise to answer ALL questions submitted.’
    • ‘The Maastricht package was a political bargain, which deliberately left for later negotiation many of the wider ramifications of monetary union.’
    • ‘This is clearly a political bargain or contract.’
    • ‘There are several bargains between several parties.’
    • ‘On the second question, he held that there were no strong reasons for deciding not to hold the parties to their bargain.’
    • ‘So you hold up your end of the bargain per the agreement.’
    • ‘For example, some degree of mutual trust is necessary between the parties to a bargain, and some sense of commitment to the overall end that it envisaged.’
    • ‘So someone might be drunk and you get them to sign a contract, that's unconscionable, an unconscionable bargain and would be set aside.’
    • ‘The bargain is made between private parties as citizens.’
    agreement, arrangement, understanding, deal
    View synonyms
  • 2A thing bought or offered for sale more cheaply than is usual or expected.

    ‘the secondhand table was a real bargain’
    as modifier ‘household and electrical goods at bargain prices’
    • ‘The sale is a great chance to pick up a bargain as nothing is priced over $4.’
    • ‘First, early deals, limited offers and last-minute bargains are vital, time-critical products and should be intensively promoted.’
    • ‘The food was good and correctly cooked - and at the price, a real bargain!’
    • ‘For the most of us, we can't resist a bargain, let it be from saving a fiver to a £100-it's great to know we've got the bargain buy of the sales.’
    • ‘Back to Rome again for the bargain sales, Vienna the same, and a few days in Budapest before returning home to Tokyo.’
    • ‘Jan Maher, librarian, would like you to know that she is having a gigantic bargain book sale, to make way for her very large stock of new books.’
    • ‘She found it on sale at a bargain price, and intending to do you a favor, she bought a bottle and brought it by at a time you are usually home.’
    • ‘For those with Christmas money burning a hole in their pockets who want to snap up bargains in the sales, York Trading Standards offers some advice before heading off to the stores.’
    • ‘Yet this latest Naxos set is more than just a bargain alternative, offering a powerfully enjoyable experience, made the more involving by the tensions of a live staging.’
    • ‘And whatever else January may bring with it, it also offers new beginnings and bargains at the sales.’
    • ‘Places like HMV and EB offer constant bargains and offers, as well as sales that can totally eclipse a small independent retailers.’
    • ‘There is keen demand and it is regarded as a bargain offer for a modest 18.’
    • ‘Sale prices and bargain bins are being used to entice you to get out and spend again.’
    • ‘Mighty Wal-Mart decided not to offer real bargains in the early days of the Christmas shopping season, and found that customers were snubbing its stores - well, sort of.’
    • ‘What can be wrong with this, especially when they're offering a bargain price on the bundle?’
    • ‘Many garden centres are having their end-of-season sales and offering some great bargains.’
    • ‘The gigantic bargain book sale continues in Castledermot Library, to make way for the stock of new books.’
    • ‘The sale offers bargains and discounts of up to 70 per cent on everything from fashion to food and electronics to jewellery.’
    • ‘As if that were not treat enough, these re-issues are offered at a bargain price too.’
    • ‘And, sure enough, with a slight adjustment in our colour choices, we were able to pick up all the paint we'll need to finish the job at a real bargain price.’
    good buy, cheap buy
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[no object]
  • 1Negotiate the terms and conditions of a transaction.

    ‘he bargained with the city council to rent the stadium’
    ‘many statutes are passed by political bargaining’
    • ‘Martyn stood there astonished, confessing that he was seeing a side of me he'd not seen before as I cajoled, bartered and bargained with people over prices.’
    • ‘He bought a sausage for 70p, but bargained, wanting to pay 50p instead.’
    • ‘Applause rang out in the room where ministers had bargained throughout the night as the deal was struck.’
    • ‘Unlike in the case of established shops, these hawkers give them an option for bargaining too.’
    • ‘The Mirror's James Hardy asks why the trade unions should accept regional pay bargaining?’
    • ‘He bargained; a child bartering his bedtime up just a little bit longer.’
    • ‘Joseph bargained with his tantrum-throwing patient: ‘If you allow me to treat you, I will give you my hair’.’
    • ‘Louisa returned to the Easy Gold late in the evening, having bargained out a deal with Captain Hill.’
    • ‘In doing so, they knew that hard bargaining and unpleasant compromise might be necessary.’
    • ‘So Rawls thought we should imagine ourselves to have bargained from behind a ‘veil of ignorance’, which prevented us knowing our actual social position, gender, talents and so on.’
    • ‘Afterwards we picnicked under the shade of an acacia tree and bargained with a group of smiths who patiently wait for a little passing business.’
    • ‘Increased union membership in the mid-twentieth century clearly helped, as workers bargained and lobbied for improved working conditions.’
    • ‘He bargained to stay on until the new Securities Act is passed.’
    • ‘Every hour, through the chattering and bargaining, we would hear a single, ominous drumbeat.’
    • ‘Springlike weather prevailed as vendors and buyers bartered and bargained.’
    • ‘The administration seems to have bargained pretty effectively so far, and it doesn't appear that the resolution will significantly compromise the effort to bring stability to Iraq.’
    • ‘This is a victory for the entire pro-Union community, who refused to be bombed, blackmailed or bargained out of their beliefs.’
    • ‘So I bargained at a shop that offered the best deal.’
    • ‘In his letter, Witt said the physicians felt they were ‘dealt a pack of lies’ and that the government had bargained in ‘bad faith.’’
    • ‘Consequently, service fees get bargained down in contract negotiations.’
    haggle, barter, negotiate, discuss terms, hold talks, deal, wheel and deal, trade, traffic
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    1. 1.1bargain something awaywith object Part with something after negotiation but get little or nothing in return.
      ‘his determination not to bargain away any of the province's existing economic powers’
      • ‘All agree that the legislature cannot bargain away the police power of a State.’
      • ‘The Chancellor also in effect asks us to bargain away whatever obligation or interest we have as regards the neutrality of Belgium.’
      • ‘If existing technology could meet this noble goal, bargaining it away in return for reductions in offensive missiles might not be wise.’
      • ‘He told the Sun Herald that weekend rates, overtime and penalty rates could be bargained away, rendering the 38-hour week entirely meaningless.’
      • ‘A union cannot bargain away vested rights of active workers, of former employees who no longer have recall rights, or of retirees.’
      • ‘While the Government can bargain away its discretion, it did not do so in this case.’
      • ‘Did you have the sense that they would be willing to bargain them away?’
      • ‘Principals might not be surprised to hear that often they are the fall guys for school boards who bargain away management power.’
      • ‘We will not bargain away California’s environment to oil refiners or multi-state developers.’
      • ‘They took or votes and our hopes and bargained them away to the enemy for the political equivalent of nylons, smokes and chocolate bars.’
      • ‘If, therefore, a tenant could abandon his title to the premises, he could not do it by bargaining it away to another.’
      • ‘Washington should be careful about bargaining them away.’
      • ‘If a CIA agent can bargain away the right to be free of prior restraints, surely the tobacco companies can bargain away the right to advertise.’
      • ‘We are not going to sit idly by and allow the Government to destroy our healthy and beautiful environment, as they bargain our lives away to a foreign entity, all for the sake of money.’
      • ‘Mr Dukes added that on the last occasion, EU agricultural interests were bargained away for gains in other sectors.’
    2. 1.2bargain for/on Be prepared for; expect.
      ‘I got more information than I'd bargained for’
      ‘he didn't bargain on this storm’
      • ‘A couple got a little more than they bargained for when they found they were expecting triplets’
      • ‘Cork might have expected difficulties in that area what they could not bargain on was the remarkable tide-turn at midfield.’
      • ‘What Pitt-Watson probably hadn't bargained for was the formidable figure sitting to Grossart's right.’
      • ‘I think it took people back that the Council was there too and gave them more than they were bargaining for.’
      • ‘One minute you're surfing the Web, the next you're opening a credit card bill for $100 in goodies you hadn't bargained on or budgeted for.’
      • ‘Few contemporaries had bargained for the uniform, national framework that was imposed upon them after 1790.’
      • ‘Perhaps, too, he is bargaining on the fact that this whole argument isn't really about tax cuts at all.’
      • ‘Bell has indicated he has no plans to renew bargaining for the moment and Local 1005 President Ron Lloyd has indicated the strike might go on for two months.’
      • ‘However, she hadn't bargained on becoming an instant wife and mother, when Dan unexpectedly received custody of an orphaned baby.’
      • ‘What small town hick ever bargains on his house being demolished about his ears?’
      • ‘They do not only help you plan your next trip, find you the best bargains for flights, rooms, rental cars etc., but also offer useful advice on the dos and don'ts when you visit a particular place.’
      • ‘Your gripe was that you did not get what you bargained for and expected because of this misrepresentation.’
      • ‘Charlotte Gray was made without the help of the lottery, but, bargaining on its success, the UK's Film Council awarded Ecosse 250,000 to help expand its team and develop scripts in November.’
      • ‘ITV is bargaining on US import Survivor becoming a hit.’
      • ‘Prescott will begin to reconstruct his relationship with both Gilchrist and the employers in the next few days, prepared to bargain on the amount of cash the government will contribute to the deal.’
      expect, anticipate, be prepared for, allow for, plan for, reckon with, take into account, take into consideration, contemplate, imagine, envisage, foresee, predict, look for, hope for, look to
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  • drive a hard bargain

    • Be uncompromising in making a deal.

      • ‘Analysts have said a deal will be done between 7-7.50, but Grafton's reputation for driving a hard bargain could yet prove a sticking point.’
      • ‘Turkey has been driving a hard bargain to allow the United States to use its bases for this invasion.’
      • ‘As a result the various PA partners feel they are in a stronger position to drive a hard bargain in the pre-election wrangling over seats.’
      • ‘He drove a hard bargain, winning the university the right to royalties on Kymata's products as well as a stake which at the height of the technology boom was valued at £250m.’
      • ‘Vortas laughed softly reaching out a hand to seal the deal, ‘You drive a hard bargain.’’
      • ‘It can and will, I'm sure, drive a hard bargain at the U.N. Security Council.’
      • ‘Alternatively, brush up on your negotiating skills and drive a hard bargain at the showroom.’
      • ‘‘The monks drove a hard bargain,’ says Bewley MD, Colin Brookes.’
      • ‘The Washington State Public Stadium Authority sure drove a hard bargain!’
      • ‘When it comes to driving a hard bargain, they don't come much more useless than Yours Truly.’
      • ‘His spokesman says: ‘Chris makes no secret of the fact that he drives a hard bargain on behalf of investors.’’
      • ‘Thinking he was driving a hard bargain, Bert got me to agree that his share of the Italian carve-up would be Rome, Tunis and Naples, leaving an entirely encircled Venice as my share of the loot.’
      • ‘Now it transpires that in the final days of negotiations Gannett drove a hard bargain, reducing the real value of the deal by tens of millions.’
      • ‘Even when he was green, even with his loving folks, Gene could drive a hard bargain.’
      • ‘I effortlessly erased it with my sleeve, informed him he drove a hard bargain and that we had a deal.’
      • ‘When bargaining at the shops, this is the best term to use when driving a hard bargain.’
      • ‘But the US will drive a hard bargain, even with its mates.’
      • ‘When negotiating with opponents weigh up who is in a strong position - and if it's you, always drive a hard bargain.’
      • ‘Mr Bush has scant time for fashionable causes and he drives a hard bargain.’
      • ‘While he might drive a hard bargain, he does have integrity.’
      barter, bargain, negotiate, discuss terms, quibble, wrangle
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  • into the bargain

    • In addition to what was expected; moreover.

      ‘they've exceeded expectations and played some great football into the bargain’
      ‘save yourself money and keep warm and cozy in the bargain’
      • ‘Hubert's management is also staying put, ensuring continuity and probably pretty good fat salaries into the bargain for those at the top.’
      • ‘Are they recruiting in a new, clever way, and at the same time getting some Human Resources work out of their sale force, saving money in the bargain?’
      • ‘Charities and good causes across Ireland are invited to join a scheme that will boost their fundraising efforts and save the planet into the bargain!’
      • ‘Chris Paterson did no harm to his new-found reputation as a goalkicker on the international stage and had some other valuable contributions into the bargain.’
      • ‘He looked full of running and showed no obvious ill-effects of the serious ligament damage he suffered in the Ireland match last year, scoring a good try into the bargain.’
      • ‘All Laune Rangers players, supporters and the local community are encouraged to go along to support the project and have some fun into the bargain.’
      • ‘And since you have to pay to get to the viewing tower anyway it's practically a saving to fork out for a good food and get a moving panorama into the bargain.’
      • ‘Had he paralysed France and trashed a few ministers' offices into the bargain, he would almost certainly have got off with a £20 fine.’
      • ‘Those expecting a sun holiday into the bargain will be disappointed.’
      • ‘There was a painless lump on the back of my hand and while I was anticipating that it might be removed I did not expect to lose my little finger into the bargain.’
      • ‘He had recently switched to a new monitor, and installed the After Dark screensaver into the bargain.’
      • ‘A terminally bored family throws itself at the mercy of a slick parasite, Leo, who is making love to both mother and daughter while fleecing them in the bargain.’
      • ‘Chirac and Schroeder, who last year could and did pose as the voices of sanity, now switch sides - and help improve Bush's reelection prospects in the bargain?’
      • ‘In the 26th minute, Valerie Crean got Carlow right back into the game when rifling to the back of the net and obtaining a fine point into the bargain.’
      • ‘It also makes some very rich people much, much wealthier into the bargain.’
      • ‘Centre field was even enough although Derek Treacy caught some high ball head and shoulders over his opponents and kicked two points into the bargain.’
      • ‘Forestry bosses have unveiled new plans for how trees can help to reduce flooding, tackle the effects of climate change and improve public health into the bargain.’
      • ‘The waiters weren't merely plate carriers, they were the new best friend you hadn't met yet and they could probably knock you up a balloon animal into the bargain.’
      • ‘We are instead on the verge of spectacular advances in many fields that will likely be energy conserving into the bargain.’
      also, as well, in addition, additionally, besides, furthermore, moreover, yet, on top, on top of that, over and above that, as a bonus, as an extra, to boot, for good measure
      View synonyms
  • keep one's side of the bargain

    • Carry out the promises one has made as part of an agreement.

      • ‘He is letting someone stay for no rent in return for cleaning, and they are not even beginning to keep their side of the bargain.’
      • ‘Clubs cannot get out of paying the player for the length of the contract, so a player must be made to keep his side of the bargain and give his services for the length of time he promised.’
      • ‘The strategic importance of Egypt, Malta and the Cape were key factors, and Britain was not going to surrender influence in these areas unless Napoleon kept his side of the bargain.’
      • ‘Some of the memories have been very painful for her, but nonetheless she kept her side of the bargain.’
      • ‘However, there is criticism reserved for the insurance companies, who many feel have not kept their side of the bargain.’
      • ‘The biggest scandal of all this is that we have paid our contributions and kept our side of the bargain.’
      • ‘Last week, Williams kept his side of the bargain by beating, if controversially, Michael Sprott, while Hide looked impressive in beating Alex Vassilev at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.’
      • ‘I kept my side of the bargain but was I being naive to believe my responsible employer would keep his?’
      • ‘Trin kept his side of the bargain as far as I can tell.’
      • ‘We want the West to liberalise… [and stop] exploiting legal loopholes to avoid keeping their side of the bargain’.’
      • ‘In any case, Chris kept his side of the bargain, too (unsurprising since he always keeps his promises), which makes me happier than anything I did yesterday.’
      • ‘But republicans accused the Government and Downing Street of failing to keep their side of the bargain.’
      • ‘‘I kept my side of the bargain and paid for the albums in good faith,’ she said.’
      • ‘I've kept my side of the bargain and now the Government should keep its side.’
      • ‘They kept their side of the bargain, beating Hull 28-6 to complete a miserable week for Mr McRae.’
      • ‘If they fail to keep their side of the bargain, they could be returned to the youth courts to face punishment.’
      • ‘We split up after six years but remain friends so, in the interests of research, I phone him to see whether he's kept his side of the bargain.’
      • ‘‘I have kept my side of the bargain,’ one woman said, explaining that she understood when she moved into the estate that she was obliged to keep the house in good condition.’
      • ‘In the meantime, they will be keeping their side of the bargain.’
      • ‘I have kept my side of the bargain, where is yours?’
  • strike a bargain

    • Make a bargain; agree to a deal.

      • ‘It was this conviction that armed them in 1648, having failed to strike a bargain with the king, to purge the parliament, execute the king, and establish a Commonwealth, ‘without a king and House of Lords’.’
      • ‘‘Not only can she reason,’ said the Lord, ‘She can carry an argument, and strike a bargain with the best.’’
      • ‘The final chapter has Neo finally coming face to face with the supreme power of the Machine world, the Deus Ex Machina, and strike a bargain that is the only hope for a dying world.’
      • ‘‘I promise I'll listen too you if you promise to get off of me,’ I said hoping to strike a bargain with him that would be more beneficial to me at the moment.’
      • ‘I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.’
      • ‘So, cable channels needn't strike a bargain with the FCC in order to operate.’
      • ‘And we have to accept the reality that we can't strike a bargain in a high-profile manner.’
      • ‘To Powell the pragmatists, this is evidence that North Korea's government is willing to strike a bargain in return for its continued existence.’
      • ‘But she believed, particularly in smaller independent shops, it could be worth trying to strike a bargain.’
      • ‘But the advice I'd give to anybody thinking of doing the same thing is: you must strike a bargain that's beneficial to both sides and get planning permission before you buy.’
      • ‘You can strike a bargain with a school for special arrangements to be made for the good of any particular newcomer.’
      • ‘They're not really visible from where you are - as if you are a blind person trying to strike a bargain with someone on the other side of the table.’
      • ‘Now ’, she said, ‘It looks like we could strike a bargain.’’
      • ‘When I try to strike a bargain with someone else, and especially when I try to hold down a regular job, I need to try to meet other people's needs instead of just bleating about my own.’
      • ‘Each fruit is sold according to its size and a minimum price is Rs.20, though in some areas, it is possible to strike a bargain for small melons for half that much.’
      • ‘‘Miss Lyttle,’ he finally began, ‘let's strike a bargain, shall we?’’
      • ‘Let's strike a bargain: I won't call you ‘Cat’ or ‘Sir Jinx’ if you won't call me ‘Worm’.’
      • ‘Rather than being concerned with what crimes were actually committed and the procedural rules about inclusion, they are concerned to strike a bargain.’
      • ‘I might strike a bargain, but only if the penalty wasn't too great.’
      • ‘Despite the difficult talks that lie ahead, both banks have considerable incentives to strike a bargain.’


Middle English: from Old French bargaine (noun), bargaignier (verb); probably of Germanic origin and related to German borgen ‘borrow’.