Definitions

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

  • n. The collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Time-consuming regulations or bureaucratic procedures.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. official formality and delay; excessive bureaucratic paperwork.
  • n. See under Red.

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

  • n. needlessly time-consuming procedure

Etymologies

From its former use in tying British official documents.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • We were tied up in our own red tape and each of us could feel that tender something called a comrade getting tougher and tougher to hold onto.

    Thud Ridge

  • "HiTek is going to do everything we can to cut right through the red tape and get this project on line immediately."

    Futures Imperfect

  • Those hospitals were now a dream compared to the levels of political red tape he suspected he was about to experience with Starfleet Academy.

    Starfleet Academy: The Edge

  • And Clemente — did he see fencing as a way to escape this bureaucratic dumping ground of the maimed and the flawed, where red tape and denials of grants brought frustration and failure?

    Ask the Cards a Question

  • No more red tape - it's time to give every service-member electronic copies of medical and service records upon discharge.

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Town Hall Meeting with Veterans and Military Families

  • We need to cut through the red tape - every service-member should get electronic copies of medical and service records upon discharge.

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama at the VFW National Convention

  • They must have saved this one for an Olympian red tape merchant, the Bureaucrat-in-Chief.

    Walls of Silence

  • You can always negotiate a lower-than-market interest rate from a flexible seller, and you rarely have to go through the red tape required to get a loan through a lending institution.

    Creating Wealth

  • It means no more red tape - it's time to give every service-member electronic copies of medical and service records upon discharge.

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Veterans Remarks

  • In many live phone-in shows with BBC World Radio and TV, and other major outlets, we in the large UN agencies are often contrasted with the small, “unbureaucratic” nongovernmental aid groups that “without administrative overhead and red tape can go straight to the needy with their relief.”

    A Billion Lives

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