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25 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

This may be slightly stronger than what you're looking for, but consider Kafkaesque: Kafkaesque (adj). Having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality (https://www.merriam-webster.com/...
Syntax Junkie's user avatar
14 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

Bureaucratic By the second definition - bureaucracies are so moribund that they are their own byword for inefficiency.
Dale M's user avatar
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14 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

Byzantine My favorite word! It means bureaucracy (or any process) that is extremely complicated, impossible to understand and slow as molasses.
Stian's user avatar
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5 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

There's no idiom specific to a bureaucracy, but I've heard some similes, e.g. like punching a giant marshmallow. What came immediately to mind, though, and is an inspired piece of writing by Dickens,...
anongoodnurse's user avatar
5 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

To describe the ultimate cause, you could say your documents fell through the cracks, indicating that they were misplaced or mishandled among a large quantity of similar items, and that the mistake ...
Nuclear Hoagie's user avatar
4 votes

What's a phrase that describes a person who keeps making attempts doomed to fail because they don't want their previous work to have been for nothing?

Idiomatically this is throwing good money after bad. a situation in which someone appears to be wasting money on a losing proposition Generally used when what is wasted is money
Mary's user avatar
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3 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

A slightly tongue-in-cheek metaphor here would be to say that your documents vanished into the bureaucratic ether. The concept of “the ether” has several different meanings - both the highest part of ...
templatetypedef's user avatar
3 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

It can be called ineptitude the fact of not being skilled or effective He was forced from office after a year for ineptitude and corruption. You couldn't fail to be angry at the sheer waste and ...
Weather Vane's user avatar
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3 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

A phrase for bureaucratic people is paper pushers It has negative conntations, but may include people who work in a bureaucratic environment but resent it themselves. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/...
corvus_192's user avatar
3 votes

What do you call it when someone's really pushing it?

Many possibilities here. One that you could try is overstep the mark. To go further or do more than one should or is permitted. I really feel like you overstepped the mark when you started ...
user405662's user avatar
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3 votes

What do you call it when someone's really pushing it?

Man, you're really asking for trouble now. Enough! Asking for trouble/it (idiom) Behaving in a way that is likely to cause problems for you Cambridge Ask for it (informal) To behave in a way that ...
DjinTonic's user avatar
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3 votes

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

The word shambolic is useful in this situation. It is typically described as "chiefly British" and "informal", however I hear it frequently in Canadian discussions in the ...
Spehro Pefhany's user avatar
1 vote

What do you call it when someone's really pushing it?

Cruising for a bruising. From the Wiktionary: Following a course of action likely to result in injury or other trouble for oneself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vzsXJ0D2bM
user862888's user avatar
1 vote

What do you call it when someone's really pushing it?

On thin ice is an idiom describing a scenario where someone is pushing boundaries to their breaking point. It is usually spoken as a warning by the aggrieved party, informing the line-stepper that ...
Nuclear Hoagie's user avatar
1 vote

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

I have personally used the following or some variant: chasing our tails caught in the matrix Keystone Cops bridge to nowhere Catch-22 Also, here are some words I've personally used to capture the ...
Ari's user avatar
  • 305
1 vote

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

Red tape is best. It's a negative. (See Gio answer.) I also like, lost in the Paper Shuffling. Though its not even metaphor here. Jungle of Laws, opposite of law of the jungle. I found iron cage and ...
Dor1000's user avatar
  • 144
1 vote

What idiom could describe bureaucratic inefficiency?

You could use "shambles". (OLD) shambles noun /ˈʃæmblz/ [singular] (informal) ​a situation in which there is a great lack of order or understanding synonym mess The press conference was a ...
LPH's user avatar
  • 21.8k

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