Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of offer


  1. A explicit proposal to contract which, if accepted, completes the contract and binds both the person that made the offer and the person accepting the offer to the terms of the contract.

See also

Definition of offer


  • (RP) IPA: /ˈ'fə(r)/
  • Rhymes: -'fə(r)
  • (US) IPA: /ˈ"fɚ/
  • (cot-caught merger) IPA: /ˈɑfɚ/
  • Audio (US) [?]


    From Middle English offer, from Old French offre (“offer”), from offrir (“to offer”), from Latin offerō (“to present, bring before”). Compare North Frisian offer (“sacrifice, donation, fee”), Dutch offer (“offering, sacrifice”), German Opfer (“victim, sacrifice”), Danish offer (“victim, sacrifice”), Icelandic offr (“offering”).


offer (plural offers)

  1. A proposal that has been made.

    What's in his offer?

  2. Something put forth, bid, proffered or tendered.

    His offer was $3.50 per share.

  3. (law) An invitation to enter into a binding contract communicated to another party which contains terms sufficiently definite to create an enforceable contract if the other party accepts the invitation.

    His first letter was not a real offer, but an attempt to determine interest.

Further reading

Treitel defines an offer as "an expression of willingness to contract on certain terms, made with the intention that it shall become binding as soon as it is accepted by the person to whom it is addressed", the "offeree". An offer is a statement of the terms on which the offeror is willing to be bound. It is the present contractual intent to be bound by a contract with definite and certain terms communicated to the offeree.

The "expression" referred to in the definition may take different forms, such as a letter, newspaper, fax, email and even conduct, as long as it communicates the basis on which the offeror is prepared to contract.

Whether two parties have an agreement or a valid offer is an issue which is determined by the court using the Objective test (Smith v. Hughes). Therefore the "intention" referred to in the definition is objectively judged by the courts. In the English case of Smith v. Hughes the court emphasised that the important thing is not a party's real intentions but how a reasonable person would view the situation. This is due mainly to common sense as each party would not wish to breach his side of the contract if it would make him or her culpable to damages, it would especially be contrary to the principle of certainty and clarity in commercial contract and the topic of mistake and how it affects the contract. As a minimum requirement the conditions for an offer should include at least the following 4 conditions: Delivery date, price, terms of payment that includes the date of payment and detail description of the item on offer including a fair description of the condition or type of service. Without one of the minimum requirements of condition an offer of sale is not seen as a legal offer but rather seen as an advertisement.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     doctrine of stare decisis
2.     AORO
3.     adjudication order
4.     Miranda warning
5.     civil law
6.     abscond
7.     tenancy in common
8.     bona vacantia
9.     desponent
10.     Farmer's law