bu·reau·crat | \ ˈbyu̇r-ə-ˌkrat , ˈbyər- \

Definition of bureaucrat 

: a member of a bureaucracy goverment bureaucrats

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Did You Know?

In French, a bureau is a desk, so bureaucracy means basically "government by people at desks". Despite the bad-mouthing they often get, partly because they usually have to stick so close to the rules, bureaucrats do almost all the day-to-day work that keeps a government running. The idea of a bureaucracy is to split up the complicated task of governing a large country into smaller jobs that can be handled by specialists. Bureaucratic government is nothing new; the Roman empire had an enormous and complex bureaucracy, with the bureaucrats at lower levels reporting to bureaucrats above them, and so on up to the emperor himself.

Examples of bureaucrat in a Sentence

the bureaucrats at the town hall seem to think that we need a building permit to build a tree house

Recent Examples on the Web

Your book is largely about this tension in which bureaucrats operate. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why Border Patrol agents obey immoral orders," 20 June 2018 The White House tasked him with reporting back on the ONDCP operations and the activities of its acting director, a career bureaucrat, Weyeneth said. Robert O'harrow Jr., Anchorage Daily News, "Promoted six times and then fired: A 24-year-old political appointee's wild ride in Trump's Washington," 15 June 2018 Witnesses are deposited in a drab waiting room where doors are secured with electronic locks and bureaucrats are buzzing in and out. Evan Perez, CNN, "Hot Pockets, mismatched chairs and a critical mission: Inside year one of the Mueller investigation," 17 May 2018 City council members and their key staffers, as well as top-level bureaucrats, declined to speak on the record about Smith. Gordon R. Friedman, OregonLive.com, "Packed council race could rattle Portland City Hall," 27 Apr. 2018 But statistics still used by bureaucrats in New Delhi put it at less than 85m. The Economist, "Indian states squabble over how to share out federal cash," 12 Apr. 2018 The president is slowly building a new generation of Russian bureaucrats in his own image. Mikhail Zygar, Time, "Putin Believes He's Destined to Make Russia Great Again. And He's Just Getting Started," 19 Mar. 2018 Beyond Russia, there was another reason for Brand’s departure that struck a more familiar note among 2018-era bureaucrats in Washington: the Trump administration has neglected her office. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Report: Justice Department No. 3 Cited Russia Investigation As Reason to Leave," 12 Feb. 2018 Sporting bureaucrats like their politicians to be – how can this be put kindly? – doers rather than talkers. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Give Trump credit for USA getting the World Cup," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bureaucrat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bureaucrat

1832, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bureaucrat

borrowed from French bureaucrate, after bureaucratie — more at bureaucracy, -crat

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Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for bureaucrat

The first known use of bureaucrat was in 1832

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English Language Learners Definition of bureaucrat

: a person who is one of the people who run a government or big company and who does everything according to the rules of that government or company : a person who is part of a bureaucracy

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