Definition of bureaucracy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌbjʊ(ə)ˈrɒkrəsi/

noun (plural bureaucracies)

[mass noun]
1A system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives.
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, administration, government, directorate, the establishment, the system, the powers that be, corridors of power;
ministries, authorities, officials, officialdom
informal Big Brother
1.1 [count noun] A state or organization governed or managed as a bureaucracy.
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.
1.2 [count noun] The officials in a bureaucracy, considered as a group or hierarchy.
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.
2Excessively complicated administrative procedure: 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, etiquette, protocol, officialdom, (unnecessary) paperwork
humorous bumbledom


Early 19th century: from French bureaucratie, from bureau (see bureau).

Words that rhyme with bureaucracy

adhocracy, aristocracy, autocracy, democracy, gerontocracy, gynaecocracy (US gynecocracy), hierocracy, hypocrisy, meritocracy, mobocracy, monocracy, plutocracy, technocracy, theocracy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bur¦eau|cracy

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