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red tape

excessive formality and routine required before official action can be taken.
Origin of red tape
1730-40; after the red tape used to tie official documents
Related forms
redtapism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for red tape
  • The government's hand is everywhere and bureaucratic red tape is thick and layered.
  • With local tags, you'll avoid a lot of red tape, and you'll stand a better chance of finding parts.
  • She and her five staff members help students and employers navigate visa issues and other red tape.
  • As an adjunct, there is less red tape to go through on the administrative side, so my process was surprisingly quick.
  • Vets still gripe about wading through red tape for treatment.
  • On the contrary, all this new red tape threatens to choke off a source of future economic growth.
  • Investors here tell you that the red tape involved in starting a new business is overwhelming.
  • We're cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible.
  • Especially at the entrepreneurial end of the spectrum, business people long enjoyed a lack of red tape.
  • Second, a big push on supply-side reforms, from freeing trade to slashing red tape.
British Dictionary definitions for red tape

red tape

obstructive official routine or procedure; time-consuming bureaucracy
Word Origin
C18: from the red tape used to bind official government documents
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 red tape

"excessive bureaucratic rigmarole," 1736, in reference to the red tape formerly used in Great Britain (and the American colonies) for binding up legal and other official documents, mentioned from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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red tape in Culture

red tape definition

Bureaucratic procedures that delay progress: “Paula had hoped to settle the inheritance quickly but got caught up in a lot of red tape.”

red tape definition

Administrative procedures, especially in a bureaucracy, that are marked by complexity and delay: “Red tape delayed his passport.”

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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Slang definitions & phrases for red tape

red tape

noun phrase

Delay and complication; ureaucrati routine; petty officious procedure

[1736+; fr the tape used for tying up legal and official documents]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with red tape

red tape

Official forms and procedures, especially those that are complex and time-consuming. For example, There's so much red tape involved in approving our remodeling that we're tempted to postpone it indefinitely. This expression alludes to the former British custom of tying up official documents with red ribbon. [ Early 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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