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bureau

[byoo r-oh] /ˈbyʊər oʊ/
noun, plural bureaus, bureaux
[byoo r-ohz] /ˈbyʊər oʊz/ (Show IPA)
1.
a chest of drawers, often with a mirror at the top.
2.
a division of a government department or an independent administrative unit.
3.
an office for collecting or distributing news or information, coordinating work, or performing specified services; agency:
a travel bureau; a news bureau.
4.
Chiefly British. a desk or writing table with drawers for papers.
Origin
1710-1720
1710-20; < French: desk, office, originally a kind of cloth (used to cover desks, etc.), Anglo-French, Old French burel, equivalent to bur- (probably < *būra, variant of Late Latin burra wool, fluff; compare bourrée) + -el noun suffix
Related forms
subbureau, noun, plural subbureaus, subbureaux.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for subbureau

bureau

/ˈbjʊərəʊ/
noun (pl) -reaus, -reaux (-rəʊz)
1.
(mainly Brit) a writing desk with pigeonholes, drawers, etc, against which the writing surface can be closed when not in use
2.
(US) a chest of drawers
3.
an office or agency, esp one providing services for the public
4.
  1. a government department
  2. a branch of a government department
Word Origin
C17: from French: desk, office, originally: type of cloth used for covering desks and tables, from Old French burel, from Late Latin burra shaggy cloth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for subbureau

bureau

n.

1690s, "desk with drawers, writing desk," from French bureau "office; desk, writing table," originally "cloth covering for a desk," from burel "coarse woolen cloth" (as a cover for writing desks), Old French diminutive of bure "dark brown cloth," which is perhaps either from Latin burrus "red," or from Late Latin burra "wool, shaggy garment." Offices being full of such desks, the meaning expanded 1720 to "division of a government." Meaning "chest of drawers" is from 1770, said to be American English but early in British use.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for subbureau

bureau

in the United States, a chest of drawers; in Europe a writing desk, usually with a hinged writing flap that rests at a sloping angle when closed and, when opened, reveals a tier of pigeonholes, small drawers, and sometimes a small cupboard. The bureau (French: "office") first appeared in France at the beginning of the 17th century as just a flat table with drawers below the top, the bureau plat. By Louis XIV's reign, a kneehole type was in use, with a tier of drawers on each side and a single drawer in the centre above a space for the knees.

Learn more about bureau with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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