Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Red Tape

The Grammarist on Red Tape ...

In modern usage, red tape refers to the inefficient bureaucratic rules and procedures that prevent timely action. The figurative idiom comes from the old practice within governments, including the British one, of bundling official documents and bounding them with red tape, ribbon, rope, or string. The practice dates to the 16th or 17th century, and the figurative expression is nearly as old. The earliest instance cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1736, but it was not common until the middle 19th century.

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