red tape


Definition of red tape 

: official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity which results in delay or inaction

Examples of red tape in a Sentence

You would not believe the red tape involved in getting the required permits.

Recent Examples on the Web

But huge logistical challenges remain, and whether the U.S. government can manage to clear away the red tape, confusion and seeming lack of coordination and make the deadline remains to be seen. Morgan Lee And Julie Watson,, "Frustration, heartbreak for migrant parents looking for kids," 28 June 2018 According to Filippone, Medicare footed most of the costs, but Gazella was cutting through red tape to get the VA to cover what was left. Georeen Tanner, Fox News, "Always Faithful: Marine raises thousands of dollars for vet he just met," 17 May 2018 The package was backed by Republicans as a way to free companies from red tape, and by some Democrats as a way guarantee some basic rights to gig-economy workers. The Economist, "Run, TaskRabbit, run: July 2030," 5 July 2018 But one of their goals is to help people get around and navigate through bureaucracy and figure out how to get through red tape. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Matt Cutts of the U.S. Digital Service on Recode Decode," 12 July 2018 Inside the scene, in the middle of the block, red tape wrapped around the front of a sandwich shop, Sun Sub & Philly’s. Deanese Williams-harris,, "Three shot in North Austin among 4 injured in Friday shootings," 2 June 2018 Under the agreement, Maryland will be relieved of federal restrictions and red tape that the other 49 states face in the Medicare program. Brian Witte, The Seattle Times, "Maryland governor signs federal all-payer health contract," 9 July 2018 The car was removed Sunday, and the hole was boarded up with plywood and red tape. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Car crashes into side of DeKalb elementary school," 3 July 2018 The franchise has been tied up in red tape and financial doubt for years, essentially, and yet the club has been rebuilding through the draft and free agency to eventually put itself in position to be contenders. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Why Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet decided he had to tear down a wall to rebuild team," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'red tape.' 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 red tape

1736, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for red tape

from the red tape formerly used to bind legal documents in England

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Statistics for red tape

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for red tape

The first known use of red tape was in 1736

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More Definitions for red tape

red tape


English Language Learners Definition of red tape

: a series of actions or complicated tasks that seem unnecessary but that a government or organization requires you to do in order to get or do something

red tape


Kids Definition of red tape

: rules and regulations that seem unnecessary and prevent things from being done quickly and easily governmental red tape

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Comments on red tape

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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