bu·​reau·​crat | \ ˈbyu̇r-ə-ˌkrat How to pronounce bureaucrat (audio) , ˈbyər- \

Definition of bureaucrat

: a member of a bureaucracy government 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 One thing that really stuck with me, hearing these stories from the history of epidemiology, was that so many of them involve a disbelieving bureaucrat. Gregory Barber, Wired, "A Mathematician’s Guide to How Contagion Spreads," 7 July 2020 Again using a mockumentary approach, the show stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a bureaucrat whose belief in local government didn’t just fire up her devotion to the Pawnee, Indiana parks department, but fueled her optimistic drive. oregonlive, "Missing your co-workers? 14 TV workplace comedies to watch while staying home," 2 July 2020 As a Washington bureaucrat, Dr. Bingham achieved a rare level of notoriety. Katharine Q. Seelye, BostonGlobe.com, "Eula Bingham, champion of worker safety," 25 June 2020 And so Greg Sankey, a true bureaucrat of an SEC commissioner whose tenure has been light on notable accomplishment and heavy on keeping the league’s cash registers ringing, has made his move at this moment of national reckoning. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: It's time for Ole Miss to finally do away with 'Rebels' nickname," 19 June 2020 On the other end of his Zoom call that day were a bureaucrat in Tasmania, an anthropologist in Finland, and a teacher in Hong Kong. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "The Dogs of Chernobyl: Are virtual tours the future of tourism?," 5 June 2020 Tucker Carlson lashed out at Washington bureaucrats, including Gov. Jay Inslee, for failing to respond to protesters who have taken over a six-block radius of Seattle. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'They want segregation': Tucker Carlson blasts Washington lawmakers as 'lunatics' create Seattle autonomous zone," 11 June 2020 Not airy academics in love with theory and models, and not medical bureaucrats who are, themselves, susceptible to politics and power-seeking, but practical scientists and doctors. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "COVID Cash for the Arts: Where to Start," 2 May 2020 Fighting back, some aldermen have charged that her policies left their wards subject to the whims of the mayor and downtown bureaucrats. Mick Dumke, ProPublica, "Leaked Recordings Reveal Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Firmly in Charge and City Alderman Left Largely on the Sidelines," 21 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for bureaucrat

Time Traveler

The first known use of bureaucrat was in 1832

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Statistics for bureaucrat

Last Updated

19 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bureaucrat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bureaucrat. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for bureaucrat


How to pronounce bureaucrat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bureaucrat

often disapproving : 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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