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1. A derogatory term used to describe someone who obsesses over trivial and insignificant expenditures in an attempt to save money. As soon as the staff learned they had to purchase their own office supplies, they knew it was a result of the finance department's new bean counter tightening the company's purse strings.
2. An accountant. We need to get a bean counter in here to analyze these expense reports and give us the big picture on our finances.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a bean counter
If you call someone a bean counter, you mean that they are only interested in how much money a business makes and spends. Note: In the following expressions, `bean' means money. The reason for our failure is that we have bean counters running our companies. The Japanese have engineering and manufacturing people. Medical bean counters don't think it is cost-effective to detect this type of cancer in the older age groups. Note: You can call this type of approach bean counting. If someone does this, you can say they count the beans. He is angry with the Hollywood establishment — the `bean-counting producers, the idiot studio heads and the lawyers.' Those who count the beans in our society have all the power, and will do for the foreseeable future. Note: These expressions usually show disapproval.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
n. a statistician; an accountant. When the bean-counters get finished with the numbers, you won’t recognize them.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.