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bureaucracy

[byoo-rok-ruh-see] /byʊˈrɒk rə si/
noun, plural bureaucracies.
1.
government by many bureaus, administrators, and petty officials.
2.
the body of officials and administrators, especially of a government or government department.
3.
excessive multiplication of, and concentration of power in, administrative bureaus or administrators.
4.
administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine.
Origin of bureaucracy
1810-1820
1810-20; bureau + -cracy, modeled on French bureaucratie
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bureaucracy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sun believed that democracy would effectuate the filtering, allowing long-range revision from outside the bureaucracy.

    Government in Republican China Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger
  • It is but fair to say that venality is not one of the characteristics of the German bureaucracy.

    England and Germany Emile Joseph Dillon
  • The bureaucracy has been against us, as it is natural they would be against us, as it is natural they should be against us.

    India for Indians C. R. (Chittaranjan) Das
  • Even if the bureaucracy were omniscient, such a condition of life would be intolerable.

    Socialism John Spargo
  • After the election of the Third Duma the bureaucracy grew ever bolder.

    Bolshevism John Spargo
British Dictionary definitions for bureaucracy

bureaucracy

/bjʊəˈrɒkrəsɪ/
noun (pl) -cies
1.
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
2.
government by such a system
3.
government or other officials collectively
4.
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
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Word Origin and History for bureaucracy
n.

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
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bureaucracy 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.
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