red tape

  

Definition

Colloquial term for bureaucratic practice of hair splitting or foot dragging, blamed by its practitioners on the system that forces them to follow prescribed procedures to the letter. It gets its name from the color of the ribbon used in tying government documents.

Use red tape in a sentence

  • Sometimes there will be some legal red tape that you can not cross unless you want to face getting reprimands, fines, or even jail time.

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  • The alleged red tape that prevented our business plan from working was quite frustrating to hear about for the team.

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  • To finish my task I had to go through the red tape process, which seemed very pointless to me and just a waste of time.

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