The powers that be (phrase)

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In idiomatic English, "the powers that be" (sometimes initialized as TPTB) is a phrase used to refer to those individuals or groups who collectively hold authority over a particular domain.[1] The word "be" is the archaic alternative form of "are"; the singular equivalent, "the power that is," is less commonly used. "The powers that were" (TPTW) is also another derivation that is used.

Origin[edit]

The phrase first appeared in the Tyndale Bible, William Tyndale's 1526 translation of the New Testament, as: "Let every soul submit himself unto the authority of the higher powers. There is no power but of God. The powers that be, are ordained of God".[2] In the 1611 King James Version it became, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: The powers that be are ordained of God." (rom 13:1),[3] whence it eventually passed into popular language.[4][5]

The phrase comes from a translation of the Greek: αἱ ... οὖσαι [ἐξουσίαι], translit. hai ... oûsai [exousíai], lit. 'the ... existing [powers]'; ἐξουσίαι is also translated as "authorities" in some other translations.[6]

Examples[edit]

"The powers that be" can refer to a variety of entities that depend on the domain, including

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ powers that be. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved June 5, 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/powers+that+be
  2. ^ Tyndale, William (1526). Tyndale Bible. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013.
  3. ^ [1] Archived December 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "The powers that be - meaning and origin". Phrases.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  5. ^ "powers that be - definition of powers that be by The Free Dictionary". Thefreedictionary.com. 1987-03-01. Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  6. ^ Biblos.com. Chain Link Bible. Romans 13:1.

External links[edit]