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Red Tape

Official formality; so called because lawyers and government officials tie their papers together with red tape. Charles Dickens introduced the phrase.

“There is a good deal of red tape at Scotland Yard, as anyone may find to his cost who has any business to transact there.” —W. Terrell: Lady Delmar, bk. iii. 2.

Red Tape

Dressing Edward VI.

First a shirt was taken up by the Chief Equerry-in-Waiting.
who passed it to the First Lord of the Buck-hounds.
who passed it to the Second Gentleman of the Bedchamper.
who passed it to the Head Ranger of Windsor Forest.
who passed it to the Third Groom of the Stole,
who passed it to the Chancellor Royal of the Duchy of Landcashire,
who passed it to the Master of the Wardrobe,
who passed it to Norroy King-of-Arms.
who passed it to the Constable of the Tower,
who passed it to the Chief Steward of the Household,
who passed it to the Hereditary Grand Diaperer,
who passed it to the Lord High Admiral of England.
who passed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury,
who passed it to the First Lord of the Bedchamber,
who put it on the young king.

Mark Twain: The Prince and the Pauper, p. 143.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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