How Well Do You Know English Slang?
"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.
Bureaucratic procedures that delay progress: “Paula had hoped to settle the inheritance quickly but got caught up in a lot of red tape.”
Administrative procedures, especially in a bureaucracy, that are marked by complexity and delay: “Red tape delayed his passport.”
Delay and complication; ureaucrati routine; petty officious procedure
[1736+; fr the tape used for tying up legal and official documents]