Definition of bureaucracy in English:


Syllabification: bu·reauc·ra·cy
Pronunciation: /byo͝oˈräkrəsē

noun (plural bureaucracies)

  • 1A system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives.
    More example sentences
    • It also reduces the links between social democracy and overbearing bureaucracy.
    • He surveys the continued break-up and decline in influence of the old social democratic bureaucracy and predicts that reaction will benefit.
    • In this case the people are circus performers, not very good ones, and the system is the Communist bureaucracy of Czechoslovakia.
    civil service, government, administration; establishment, system, powers that be; ministries, authorities
  • 1.1A state or organization governed or managed as a bureaucracy.
    More example sentences
    • Virtually all corporations and government bureaucracies are dictatorships.
    • This is one of the big problems with bureaucracies, especially as regards long-seated civil organizations.
    • Such automatic feedback mechanisms are one of the primary reasons why markets perform so much better than public sector bureaucracies.
  • 1.2The officials in a bureaucracy, considered as a group or hierarchy.
    More example sentences
    • The labour bureaucracies could no longer combine their defence of the profit system with the advocacy of limited social reforms.
    • There are, of course, a chief executive's policies, which are executed by a staff and attending bureaucracies.
    • The other prop for the Labour leadership is the union bureaucracies, the full time officials at the top of the hierarchy.
  • 1.3Excessively complicated administrative procedure, seen as characteristic of bureaucracy: the unnecessary bureaucracy in local government
    More example sentences
    • Many things in India are complex because of massive bureaucracy, protocol and procedure.
    • There is no overbearing bureaucracy or complicated rules.
    • The unit will tackle unnecessary paperwork and reduce bureaucracy.
    red tape, rules and regulations, protocol, officialdom, paperwork


early 19th century: from French bureaucratie, from bureau (see bureau, -cracy).

More definitions of bureaucracy

Definition of bureaucracy in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day skosh
Pronunciation: skōSH
a small amount; a little