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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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a pen pushermainly BRITISH or
a pencil pusherAMERICAN or
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.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012