Definition of red tape in English:

Share this entry

red tape

Pronunciation: /ˈˌred ˈtāp/


Excessive bureaucracy or adherence to rules and formalities, especially in public business: this law will just create more red tape
More example sentences
  • He says local government red tape is killing housing availability and affordability.
  • The Scottish economy cannot afford the tourist industry to be hamstrung by red tape and bureaucracy any longer.
  • You will encounter government regulations and red tape in your chosen country.


Early 18th century: so named because of the red or pink tape used to bind and secure official documents.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: red tape

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.