Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A chest of drawers, especially a dresser for holding clothes.
  • noun Chiefly British A writing desk or writing table with drawers.
  • noun A government department or a subdivision of a department.
  • noun An office, usually of a large organization, that is responsible for a specific duty.
  • noun A business that offers information of a specified kind.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A division of the United States Department of Commerce and Labor, charged with a general superintendence of many matters connected with the merchant marine.
  • noun A desk or writing-table with drawers for papers; an escritoire.
  • noun A chest of drawers for holding clothes and other articles.
  • noun An office or place where business is transacted.
  • noun A department of government for the transaction of public business.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Originally, a desk or writing table with drawers for papers.
  • noun The place where such a bureau is used; an office where business requiring writing is transacted.
  • noun Hence: A department of public business requiring a force of clerks; the body of officials in a department who labor under the direction of a chief.
  • noun U.S. A chest of drawers for clothes, especially when made as an ornamental piece of furniture.
  • noun See Bureaucracy.
  • noun an institution, in the interest of maritime underwriters, for the survey and rating of vessels all over the world. It was founded in Belgium in 1828, removed to Paris in 1830, and reëstablished in Brussels in 1870.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Office.
  • noun Desk, usually with a cover and compartments for storing papers etc. located above the level of the writing surface rather than underneath.
  • noun US Chest of drawers for clothes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an administrative unit of government
  • noun furniture with drawers for keeping clothes

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, cloth cover for desks, desk, office, from Old French burel, woolen cloth, probably from Vulgar Latin *būra, from Late Latin burra, shaggy garment.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French bureau ‘desk’, earlier ‘coarse cloth (as desk cover), baize’, from Old French burel ‘woolen cloth’, diminutive of *bure (cf. Middle French bure ‘coarse woolen cloth’, French bourre ‘hair, fluff’), from Late Latin burra ‘wool, fluff, shaggy cloth, coarse fabric’; akin to Ancient Greek berberion ‘shabby garment’.

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