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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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 In 2019, the California Air Resources Board commissioned a report from Cal Maritime with a title that would cause the eyes of even the most nerdy bureaucrat to glaze. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 July 2021 Her family said Islam was held for more than five hours on Monday in the room of a personal assistant of the secretary of the Health Ministry — a top bureaucrat. Julhas Alam, Star Tribune, 23 May 2021 The numbers revealed a tight race between Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and Kathryn Garcia, the longtime city bureaucrat. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 2 July 2021 Big Brother style, talking to a room full of scientist/bureaucrat/NGO-looking types. George Calhoun, Forbes, 25 June 2021 The career bureaucrat’s tool of choice has become the leak. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, 10 June 2021 In neighboring Odisha, around 120 villages had been swamped by heavy rain and sea water whipped up by the cyclone but people in most areas had already been moved to storm shelters, the state's top bureaucrat, Suresh Mahapatra, told Reuters. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 26 May 2021 When one of Rambo’s overseas handlers—a feckless government bureaucrat based in Thailand—turns out to be lying about his military service record, Rambo more or less shrugs it off. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 21 May 2021 Her branding, however, feels more personal than that of a stuffy bureaucrat. Diana Budds, Curbed, 11 May 2021

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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Last Updated

1 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bureaucrat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bureaucrat. Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for bureaucrat



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

More from Merriam-Webster on bureaucrat

Nglish: Translation of bureaucrat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bureaucrat for Arabic Speakers


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