red tape

This page is about the idiom red tape


Strict adherence to rules and regulations so that a procedure seems to take longer than necessary.

For example

  • It takes a long time to set up a company in some countries because of all the red tape involved in getting government permits.

  • It took two weeks to get visas for our aid workers because of all the red tape.

Origin: Probably related to the fact that bundles of official government documents are often tied together with red tape.

Quick Quiz

The red tape makes getting government approval take

a. a long time

b. a short time

c. a good time
a) a long time b) a short time c) a good time
red tape

See Idiom of the Day today

Contributor: Matt Errey

Nobody has the right to obey.'