Bureaucracy

A system of government in which the business is carried on in bureaux or departments. The French bureau means not only the office of a public functionary, but also the whole staff of officers attached to the department. As a word of reproach, bureaucracy has nearly the same meaning as Dickens's word, red-tapeism (q.v.).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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