pen pusher

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pen pusher

One who has a boring, meaningless office job. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Gary was tired of being a pen pusher, so he decided to quit and start his own business.
See also: pen, pusher
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a pen pusher

mainly BRITISH or

a pencil pusher


a paper pusher

COMMON If you describe someone as a pen pusher or a pencil pusher, you mean that they have a boring office job and do not make any important decisions. People who used to be called administrators, and perhaps seen as just pen pushers, have been transformed into senior managers. Many of the men who now sit on company boards are pencil pushers with qualifications from top schools, but lack experience in business. Note: In both American and British English, you can also call someone a paper pusher. I didn't want to be just another faceless paper pusher. Note: You can refer to office work as pen-pushing, pencil-pushing, or paper-pushing. You can also say that office workers push papers or push pens. I want our police officers freed from paper-pushing. I'm very thankful that I can make a living from my art, rather than working as a waiter or pushing papers eight hours a day.
See also: pen, pusher
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
It cost a fortune in taxpayers' money to train them as helicopter pilots but they have quit those roles to become more focused on so-called Royal duties and Harry ends up a pen-pusher.
A man with a distinguished World War Two record reduced to begging for extra help, denied to him by a pen-pusher.
SOMEWHERE in Birmingham City Council's comfortable offices sits a pen-pusher with a pitiful lack of compassion and a gaping deficit of common sense.
Clarkson''s comments are, in fact, representative of a section of people from his own privileged background, boarder at the elite Repton public school, who believe that anyone not making piles of money and who does work in the public sector is a pen-pusher, bureaucrat or useless drudge.
However, it can only make sense to a pen-pusher in a distant ivory tower to divorce Haltwhistle, Allendale and Hexhamshire from the constituency of Hexham and lump them in as a make-weight with Consett and Barnard Castle.
Simpson is the grandly-titled National Teams Administrator, which means he is a pen-pusher and paper shuffler, so why he was in the dugout in Iceland is beyond belief.
She was, in short (albeit, an intelligent, organised and intellectual woman) a pen-pusher.