Definition of red tape in English:

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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.

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