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We use [red tape] to mean excessive bureaucracy or adherence to official rules and formalities:
However, it’s not only used to talk about official bureaucracy but also when we feel rules and systems are slow to respond. This can be especially true when many people are involved in what seems to be a simple task or decision.
Red tape takes its meaning from the early 18th century: so named because of the red or pink tape used to bind official documents.
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