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 Brandon Wales, a career bureaucrat and third in line behind Krebs, is now leading the agency, the people said. Alyza Sebenius, Bloomberg.com, "Trump Extends Post-Election Purge With Firing of Cyber Official," 18 Nov. 2020 In December 2018, the Narendra Modi government put an end to a bruising battle with India’s central bank by appointing a former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the Reserve Bank of India governor. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz India, "What has Modi’s handpicked central bank chief accomplished two years in?," 14 Dec. 2020 Xie Zhenhua, a former environmental bureaucrat and veteran diplomat, oversaw the work from his threadbare office as head of the college’s Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Dow 30,000, Yellen 2021 (Warnings Apply)," 24 Nov. 2020 Rather than viewing the facility through the eyes of those seeking a new life, the French poet and author hands the spyglass instead to a fictional bureaucrat within its walls. Rebekah Denn, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘The Last Days of Ellis Island’ probes bureaucracy and abuse of power," 21 Dec. 2020 The country’s most famous bureaucrat is still a practicing doctor. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Through AIDS, Ebola and Covid, Dr. Fauci Is Still Treating Patients," 24 Dec. 2020 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took another activist turn by appointing a prominent advocate of government spending as the top economic bureaucrat in Canada. Kait Bolongaro, Bloomberg.com, "Trudeau’s Finance Shake-Up Signals Full Steam Ahead on Spending," 8 Dec. 2020 Another consequence that a public-health bureaucrat may neglect concerns recovery programs, and the logistical issues of social distancing and limiting gatherings. John Loftus, National Review, "How More Lockdowns Could Affect the Opioid Epidemic," 10 Nov. 2020 Cap is a bit of a sad sack, constantly fretting about his car being booted in Hawaii, while Rook leans more toward bureaucrat than astronaut, obsessing over environmental impact reports. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'I'm afraid of heights': Fred Armisen, John C. Reilly on the hapless would-be astronauts of 'Moonbase 8'," 6 Nov. 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

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bureaucrat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bureaucrat. Accessed 8 Mar. 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

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