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Definition of 'Byzantine'

Extremely complicated and convoluted, often to the point of being difficult to understand.
"The tax code was so Byzantine that even the experts had trouble navigating it."

Detailed Meaning of 'Byzantine'

This term is used to describe systems, processes, or situations that are characterized by intricate details, numerous interconnecting parts, and a lack of transparency. A Byzantine solution is one that is overly complex and convoluted, making it challenging for individuals to grasp the underlying logic or methodology. In a Byzantine environment, it can be difficult to determine cause and effect, and the relationships between different components may be unclear. This complexity can lead to confusion, mistakes, and inefficiency. The term is often used to criticize situations or solutions that are unnecessarily complicated and could be improved with a more straightforward approach.

Byzantine also refers to the culture, art, architecture, and social institutions of the Byzantine Empire, which was the eastern half of the Roman Empire that survived for over a thousand years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The term is also used to describe the empire's style of government, which was characterized by complexity, intrigue, and a lack of transparency.


Examples of 'Byzantine' in a Sentence

1. The Byzantine legal system, with its intricate rules and procedures, often left people perplexed.
2. Navigating the Byzantine bureaucracy of the government required expert guidance.
3. The Byzantine complexities of the project's design led to numerous delays.
4. The instructions were couched in Byzantine terminology that only experts could decipher.
5. Investors were baffled by the deal's Byzantine terms and conditions.
6. Many struggled to comprehend the Byzantine intricacies of the tax code.

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Origins & Etymology of 'Byzantine'

The adjective 'Byzantine' has an intriguing etymology rooted in the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire that endured for centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The term 'Byzantine' originally referred to the complex and intricate political, religious, and administrative systems of the Byzantine Empire. It was used to describe the elaborate court ceremonies, intricate bureaucracy, and convoluted legal processes of the Byzantines. Over time, this historical association with complexity and intricacy led to the term 'Byzantine' being applied metaphorically to describe any situation, system, or process that is extremely complicated and convoluted, often to the point of being difficult to understand. Hence, when we use the term 'Byzantine' today, it reflects its historical roots in the complexity of the Byzantine Empire and signifies a similarly intricate and bewildering complexity in a broader context.

How to pronounce byzantine (audio)


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