bureaucrat

noun
bu·​reau·​crat | \ˈbyu̇r-ə-ˌkrat, 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

AP Time will tell whether Washington’s bureaucrats are similarly chosen on the basis of expertise and given relative freedom from legislative interference. David Roberts, Vox, "Washington votes no on a carbon tax — again," 6 Nov. 2018 But time and again, bureaucrats redact information that's embarrassing to them that the American people have a right to know. Fox News, "New developments in Tucker's Google investigation; Dean Cain on Hollywood rallying behind Kavanaugh's accuser," 22 Sep. 2018 In addition to conditioning network use upon waiver of the user's First Amendment rights, these terms are practically impossible to interpret objectively, and are inherently up to the whim of a bureaucrat's discretion. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC Republican claims municipal broadband is threat to First Amendment," 30 Oct. 2018 The hardest part was following the strict protocol of being a stern Swiss bureaucrat while asking such awkward questions. Vogue, "Inside Frieze London With Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis," 9 Oct. 2018 Republicans portrayed Evers as a bureaucrat who wasn’t aggressive enough in revoking licenses from teachers accused of wrongdoing in the classroom. Scott Bauer, The Seattle Times, "8 Democrats seek to challenge Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker," 13 Aug. 2018 Two decades of efforts by Kremlin specialists have chiseled an international icon of inscrutability and might out of a former municipal bureaucrat who wore ill-fitting suits. Washington Post, "How the Kremlin turned the Russian president into a global icon," 12 July 2018 That arrangement stood until June 2014 when David Deal, a Virginia lawyer and avid photographer, went out of his way to track down Baille, a retired government bureaucrat in the mountain town of Gap in southeast France. Jason Meisner, chicagotribune.com, "Genealogical investigation uncovers 10 heirs of famed Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier," 26 June 2018 Those who know him best describe Infantino, the Swiss son of southern Italian immigrants, as a tireless bureaucrat whose relentlessness is matched only by his ambition. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "The Power Politics of Gianni Infantino," 10 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

1 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for bureaucrat

The first known use of bureaucrat was in 1832

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More Definitions for bureaucrat

bureaucrat

noun

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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