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90s Slang You Should Know


[byoo r-oh] /ˈbyʊər oʊ/
noun, plural bureaus, bureaux
[byoo r-ohz] /ˈbyʊər oʊz/ (Show IPA)
a chest of drawers, often with a mirror at the top.
a division of a government department or an independent administrative unit.
an office for collecting or distributing news or information, coordinating work, or performing specified services; agency:
a travel bureau; a news bureau.
Chiefly British. a desk or writing table with drawers for papers.
Origin of bureau
1710-20; < French: desk, office, originally a kind of cloth (used to cover desks, etc.), Anglo-French, Old French burel, equivalent to bur- (probably < *būra, variant of Late Latin burra wool, fluff; cf. bourrée) + -el noun suffix
Related forms
subbureau, noun, plural subbureaus, subbureaux. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bureau
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And there was a pincushion, that was white over pink, on the bureau.

    Peggy in Her Blue Frock Eliza Orne White
  • It is now deposited in the library of the bureau of Ethnology.

  • He put the lamp on the bureau, and looked vacantly about him.

    Sandy Alice Hegan Rice
  • Hope if it ever comes to a showdown the secretary of the bureau of commerce will agree with me.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • The man at the bureau gave her Lady Sellingworth's note, and she took it up with her to her sitting-room.

    December Love Robert Hichens
British Dictionary definitions for bureau


noun (pl) -reaus, -reaux (-rəʊz)
(mainly Brit) a writing desk with pigeonholes, drawers, etc, against which the writing surface can be closed when not in use
(US) a chest of drawers
an office or agency, esp one providing services for the public
  1. a government department
  2. a branch of a government department
Word Origin
C17: from French: desk, office, originally: type of cloth used for covering desks and tables, from Old French burel, from Late Latin burra shaggy cloth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bureau

1690s, "desk with drawers, writing desk," from French bureau "office; desk, writing table," originally "cloth covering for a desk," from burel "coarse woolen cloth" (as a cover for writing desks), Old French diminutive of bure "dark brown cloth," which is perhaps either from Latin burrus "red," or from Late Latin burra "wool, shaggy garment." Offices being full of such desks, the meaning expanded 1720 to "division of a government." Meaning "chest of drawers" is from 1770, said to be American English but early in British use.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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