red tape

excessive formality and routine required before official action can be taken.
1730–40; after the red tape used to tie official documents
Related forms
redtapism, noun
British Dictionary definitions for red-tape
red tape
obstructive official routine or procedure; time-consuming bureaucracy
[C18: from the red tape used to bind official government documents]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin and History for red-tape
red tape
"excessive bureaucratic rigmarole," 1736, in allusion to the red tape formerly used in Great Britain (and the Amer. colonies) for binding up legal and other official documents.
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 related to 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]

Dictionary of American Slang
Copyright © 1986 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Difficulty index for red-tape

Few English speakers likely know this word

Tile value for red

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with red-tape