Know how to use "fewer" and "less"? Find out.


[byoo-rok-ruh-see] /byʊˈrɒk rə si/
noun, plural bureaucracies.
government by many bureaus, administrators, and petty officials.
the body of officials and administrators, especially of a government or government department.
excessive multiplication of, and concentration of power in, administrative bureaus or administrators.
administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine.
1810-20; bureau + -cracy, modeled on French bureaucratie Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for bureaucracies
  • Administrations and campus bureaucracies can be bloated and inefficient.
  • It seems to be a backward process rather than productive that can be distorted by bureaucracies.
  • It's not a techno thriller, heavy on great bureaucracies colliding.
  • Standing armies get larger, not smaller, and bureaucracies grow rather than shrink.
  • But intelligence bureaucracies have a habit of responding to breaches with clenching up.
  • But replacing bureaucrats is easier than diverting whole bureaucracies.
  • bureaucracies have flourished because their efficient and rational division and application of labour is powerful.
  • Reform was relegated to an expanding number of squabbling bureaucracies.
  • New bureaucracies are being created to take on the responsibilities of the ones being scrapped.
  • Small bureaucracies are also a lot easier to refashion than large ones.
British Dictionary definitions for bureaucracies


noun (pl) -cies
a system of administration based upon organization into bureaus, division of labour, a hierarchy of authority, etc: designed to dispose of a large body of work in a routine manner
government by such a system
government or other officials collectively
any administration in which action is impeded by unnecessary official procedures and red tape
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for bureaucracies



1818, from French bureaucratie, coined by French economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759) on model of democratie, aristocratie, from bureau "office," literally "desk" (see bureau) + Greek suffix -kratia denoting "power of" (see -cracy).

That vast net-work of administrative tyranny ... that system of bureaucracy, which leaves no free agent in all France, except for the man at Paris who pulls the wires. [J.S. Mill, "Westminster Review" XXVIII, 1837]

bureaucrat, &c. The formation is so barbarous that all attempt at self-respect in pronunciation may perhaps as well be abandoned. [Fowler]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
bureaucracies in Culture
bureaucracy [(byoo-rok-ruh-see)]

A formal, hierarchical organization with many levels in which tasks, responsibilities, and authority are delegated among individuals, offices, or departments, held together by a central administration. According to many sociologists and anthropologists, the development of bureaucratic organizations is necessary for the emergence of any modern civilization. (See Max Weber.)

Note: Today, the term bureaucracy suggests a lack of initiative, excessive adherence to rules and routine, red tape, inefficiency, or, even more serious, an impersonal force dominating the lives of individuals. (See Big Brother is watching you.)
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for bureaucracy

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for bureaucracies

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with bureaucracies