red tape


Definition of red tape

: official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity which results in delay or inaction bureaucratic red tape … enterprisers that show how people across the Nation are coping (or not coping) with such problems as unemployment, the budget deficit and Government red tape.— John Weisman … pompous officials (often lowly clerks) in love with red tape who delight in obstructing the expedition of what should be simple procedures.— Norman W. Schur Initial plans became irretrievably mired in the red tape of building permissions.— Bella Pollen Their plan is simple enough and none too glamorous: create a Web site to help people cut through red tape; i.e., pay for parking tickets and so on.— Sarah Kerr

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 An administration official said the U.S. is hoping to forge new repatriation collaboration agreements with certain countries that would cut red tape for carrying out deportations. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 26 Apr. 2022 But layers of legal red tape and regulations are preventing conversions from happening at any kind of scale. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 27 Apr. 2022 The new legislative proposal would be a blow to Disney, since its theme park and resort have benefited from limited red tape and exemptions from certain taxes for 55 years within the special taxing district. Eloise Barry, Time, 21 Apr. 2022 Amid billows of red tape and construction delays, Goldman and Stayner decided to precede Bacetti by wading in with Tilda, a charming sliver of a wine bar occupying the building’s left corner. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Political leaders in Kentucky, Virginia, and Wyoming are cutting red tape and taxes that would open their states for more crypto mining, arguing that leftover coal infrastructure pairs well with the modern-day tech. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2022 Would create a bureau that could cut red tape and train workers in clean energy jobs. Mallory Moench, Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Feb. 2022 Even with money earmarked to stop evictions during a public health crisis, red tape and bureaucracy often got in the way of distributing the funds. Megan Stringer, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Jan. 2022 Bamiduro says excessive bureaucratic red tape and supply chain delays due to bad infrastructure are also routine headaches. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for red tape

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The first known use of red tape was in 1736

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Dictionary Entries Near red tape

red tail snapper

red tape


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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Red tape.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for red tape

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

More from Merriam-Webster on red tape

Nglish: Translation of red tape for Spanish Speakers


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