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 But, when large balances are involved, there’s always a salesperson to entice unsophisticated bureaucrats with the lure of higher yields with a fail-safe gimmick. John Moorlach, Orange County Register, "Lessons from Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy: John Moorlach," 8 Dec. 2019 After Trump shocked the Democrats by releasing the contents of his call with Ukraine, all that was left for Schiff to do was to offer up bureaucrats who don’t like Trump to give their impressions. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: Trump Impeachment Theater offers two plotlines for Schiff," 28 Nov. 2019 Reform measures taken to retire key director-generals over the age of 60 has also caused anxieties for companies who have vested business relationships with bureaucrats. Washington Post, "Iraq protests take toll on economy, vulnerable suffer most," 20 Dec. 2019 As Sanders has cheerfully volunteered, Washington would take a supervisory role in how public colleges operate, with federal bureaucrats issuing edicts on college offerings, staffing, salaries, and much else. Frederick M. Hess, National Review, "Break Up the B.A. Cartel," 7 Nov. 2019 In recent years, federal prosecutors have filed landmark cases against international soccer bureaucrats and sneaker company marketers making under-the-table payments to amateur basketball players. oregonlive, "Kate Brown off to Doha world championships, pledges $40 million to fund Oregon’s turn as host," 26 Sep. 2019 Thousands of people who signed nomination forms for independent candidates saw their signatures dismissed as fake by bureaucrats, and were even ignored when some turned up in an effort to verify them. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Fury at elections snub brings Moscow’s professionals back to politics," 22 Aug. 2019 Insurers also say that public option and Medicare buy-in plans would lead the nation down the path of a one-size-fits-all health care system run by bureaucrats in Washington D.C. Ana Radelat, courant.com, "Health insurers ramp up lobbying battle against Medicare-for-all," 12 Aug. 2019 Lending quotas for favored minority groups and low-income applicants were increased by government bureaucrats, and mortgage companies came up with creative ways to meet them. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats May Inflate Another Housing Bubble," 9 July 2019

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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bureaucrat.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bureaucrats. Accessed 25 January 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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Comments on bureaucrat

What made you want to look up bureaucrat? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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