Nouns is a protocol for proliferating Nouns.


Noun protocol is a suite of smart contracts that generates and auctions a Noun every day. The protocol serves as an open standard for generative art - Nouns. Because all of the art was released under the public domain, developers can build without restriction on the protocol at the smart contract or application layer.

This documentation describes the mechanisms that power the Nouns protocol and what each component entails. If you have any questions, please reach out at

Smart contract overview

The Noun protocol consists of three primary components: Nouns, auctions and the DAO. The suite of smart contracts gives you full access to the auctions and generative art that powers the protocol.


<aside> ➡️ To view the source code, visit the Github repository. You can also review the architecture here.


Auction lifecycle

Every auction begins where the last one ends. On settlement of an auction, a new Noun is minted and the next auction is created, all in the same transaction.

Timing Diagram



To settle an auction, the NounsAuctionHouse contract is called. The function settleCurrentAndCreateNewAuction() both settles and creates a new auction:

function settleCurrentAndCreateNewAuction() external override nonReentrant whenNotPaused {

The _settleAuction() function checks that the current auction has begun, that it has not been settled previously and that the auction time has ended:

function _settleAuction() internal {
    INounsAuctionHouse.Auction memory _auction = auction;
    require(_auction.startTime != 0, "Auction hasn't begun");
    require(!_auction.settled, 'Auction has already been settled');
    require(block.timestamp >= _auction.endTime, "Auction hasn't completed");

    auction.settled = true;

If settlement is valid, the Noun is transferred from the NounAuctionHouse to the winning bidder's address: