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(pronounced biz-un-teen or biz-un-tyn or buh-zan-tin)  adjective


1. highly complicated; intricate; involved. 2. marked by deviousness and intrigue; not straightforward; clandestine.

(Note: some spell checkers and dictionaries still suggest that byzantine be capitalized, but according to most new dictionaries, non-capitalized use of this word is fine if it is not being used in reference to the ancient city of Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire)

Main Example

  • In recent months, it has become apparent that Russia, under the leadership of former KGB official Vladimir Putin, has interfered in the elections not only here in U.S. but also in other Western Democracies, most notably France and Germany. In a recent speech, the CIA director asserted that, if unchecked, Russia will try to meddle with our upcoming midterm elections as well, using underhand and byzantine methods that have yet to be fully probed and understood by the authorities.

Workplace Examples

  • Our accounts receivables are in an even more byzantine state than I could have imagined. I’ve just spent an entire week poring over all of the files, but I still cannot figure out who owes what.
  • No, I have no idea who’ll represent us at the conference in Paris. The selection process for these plums is so byzantine, I’ve never understood it. Your guess is as good as mine.

Other Examples

  • the byzantine wording in a contract driving you up the wall because it is so hard to decipher
  • by taking advantage of a byzantine law, an astute lawyer transforming what appeared to be a weak case into an outright victory
  • a CEO saying that his industry is “burdened by regulation of byzantine complexity”; the byzantine rules for claiming some of the tax credits such as the child tax credit, foreign tax credit, and EITC; the byzantine mind of the late Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi who reportedly helped plant false evidence in the CIA about Saddam’s so-called WMDs
  • the byzantine structure of the debt-financing entities created by Enron’s management to hide the company’s true financial picture from Wall Street analysts

© 2018 V.J. Singal
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