"government by bureaus," especially "tyrannical officialdom," excessive multiplication of administrative bureaus and concentration of power in them, in reference to their tendency to interfere in private matters and be inefficient and inflexible, 1818, from French bureaucratie, coined by French economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759) on model of democratie, aristocratie, from bureau "office," literally "desk" (see bureau) + Greek suffix -kratia denoting "power of" (see -cracy).
That vast net-work of administrative tyranny ... that system of bureaucracy, which leaves no free agent in all France, except for the man at Paris who pulls the wires. [J.S. Mill, Westminster Review vol. xxviii, 1837]
bureaucrat, &c. The formation is so barbarous that all attempt at self-respect in pronunciation may perhaps as well be abandoned. [Fowler]
updated on August 19, 2020