Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Administration of a government chiefly through bureaus or departments staffed with nonelected officials.
  • n. The departments and their officials as a group: promised to reorganize the federal bureaucracy.
  • n. Management or administration marked by hierarchical authority among numerous offices and by fixed procedures: The new department head did not know much about bureaucracy.
  • n. The administrative structure of a large or complex organization: a midlevel manager in a corporate bureaucracy.
  • n. An administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action: innovative ideas that get bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Structure and regulations in place to control activity. Usually in large organizations and government operations.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A system of carrying on the business of government by means of departments or bureaus, each under the control of a chief, in contradiction to a system in which the officers of government have an associated authority and responsibility; also, government conducted on this system.
  • n. Government officials, collectively; -- used especially of nonelected government officials.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Government by bureaus; specifically, excessive multiplication of, and concentration of power in, administrative bureaus.
  • n. The body of officials administering such bureaus, considered collectively.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. nonelective government officials
  • n. a government that is administered primarily by bureaus that are staffed with nonelective officials
  • n. any organization in which action is obstructed by insistence on unnecessary procedures and red tape

Etymologies

French bureaucratie : bureau, office; see bureau + -cratie, rule (from Old French; see -cracy).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
bureau +‎ -cracy, from French bureaucratie, coined by Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (died 1759) from bureau ("office") + -cratie ("rule of") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • ‡ 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.

    bureaucracy

  • Political scientists have coined the term "bureaucracy bashing" to connote the temptation now rife among national politicians to beat up on the civil service for reasons that have nothing to do with reality.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • The opprobrious connotation of the term bureaucracy

    Mises Dailies

  • Indeed, SOME suggest the creation of the bureaucracy is the actual OBJECTIVE.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » House Democratic Leaders Drop “Deem and Pass”

  • Eric Cantor said he fears this EPA action will lead to what he call bureaucracy run amok.

    CNN Transcript Dec 7, 2009

  • At the moment I don't think this conclusion entails the usual host of anti-democratic arguments made regarding the legal system since the bureaucracy is at bottom a creature of the executive and the legislature.

    Balkinization

  • "The prime minister said that the term bureaucracy is generally used negatively, but it actually has a different meaning.

    Kuensel Newspaper

  • KING: The word bureaucracy scares me a little bit, but we hope it works out and it's a good bureaucracy.

    CNN Transcript Feb 8, 2009

  • How many had he "slain" in this way, destroying any chance they had for advancement in Japanese bureaucracy?

    The Miko

  • Given the amount of corruption in Japanese bureaucracy, it sounds like a good idea to force a certain amount of disclosure so that citizens can understand where vested interests might lie, but does this really help us to discover the financial worth of the politicians here?

    Japan: Stippy

Comments

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  • What

    December 3, 2012

  • "Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies." - Honore de Balzac

    July 30, 2008