A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 26, 2015
TPTB or PTB (The Powers That Be)

"The powers that be, are ordeined of God” is from Romans XIII.1 of the King James Bible (1611). The term “the powers that be” has been used to describe other higher powers, such as those of government or the upper management of a business.

“P.T.B.’s — the Powers That Be” was cited in print in 1937. “Although ‘powers that be’ have a different set of initials (PTB)” was cited in 1965.

“It doesn’t really matter how many votes the candidate of The Powers That Be got in the last election, or how many points TPTB were ahead in the last Gallup poll” was cited in print in 1965. “TPTB The powers that be” was cited in a computer book in 1990. “TPTB” became more popular than “PTB” as the online computer revolution in the 1990s developed.

“TPTSB/PTSB" (The Powers That Shouldn’t Be) became popular in the 2000s.


Wikipedia: The powers that be (phrase)
In idiomatic English, “the powers that be” is a phrase used to refer to those individuals or groups who collectively hold authority over a particular domain. It is a plurale tantum where “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.

Some examples of “powers that be” are:

. Governments, both central and local, and the accompanying civil service
. The upper management of a business
. Those who control the dissemination of information
. Controlling bodies in any organization or activity
. Karma or fate

(Oxford English Dictionary)
the powers that be and variants [after Romans 13:1] : the authorities; the people exercising political or social control.
[▸c1384 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Rom. xiii. 1 Forsoth there is not power no but of God; sothli tho thingis that ben of God, ben ordeyned.]
1526 Bible (Tyndale) Rom. xiii. 1 The powers that be are ordeyned off God.
1611 Bible (King James) Rom. xiii. 1 The powers that be, are ordeined of God.
1694 J. Tyrrell Bibliotheca Politica iv. 245 The Powers that be, that is, the Princes and Emperours who now govern the World, are ordained and appointed by God, and that thus it is God himself tells us.

Google Books
Bats in the Belfry
By E. C. R. Lorac
New York, NY: Macaulay Co.
1937
Pg. 193:
Before interviewing the P.T.B.’s — the Powers That Be — Macdonald saw Jenkins, the latter looking very rubicund and cheerful after his activities connected with the fire at the Belfry.

Google Books
Audio
Radio Magazine, Incorporated
1963
Pg. 16:
Powers-that-be: We’ll need some new sales gimmicks so why don’t you “do something” with transistors.
Boss: Yes, P-T-B.

6 October 1965, Scottsdale (AZ) Daily Progress, “A capitol rebellion” by Dick West (UPI), pg. 7, col. 7:
Although “powers that be” have a different set of initials (PTB), Stratton (Rep. Samuel S. Stratton, D-N.Y.—ed.) indicated that he was referring mainly to LBJ.

Google Books
Tech Engineering News
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Volume 47
1965
Pg. 7:
It doesn’t really matter how many votes the candidate of The Powers That Be got in the last election, or how many points TPTB were ahead in the last Gallup poll.

4 September 1974, The Daily Skiff (Fort Worth, TX), “Bill needs it; PTB has it: Rights issue a question of authority” by Steve Buttry, pg. 2, col. 2:
Several of these are ambiguous enough so that the University could probably discipline anyone the Powers That Be (PTB) choose to harass.

There is an old tried and true method for attaining the correct response (on your part) from the powers that be. It goes like this:

Google Groups: comp.software-eng
Soft-Eng digest v5n16
Alok Nigam
7/5/88
(...)
M E M O R A N D U M
To: Powers That Be
From: Mindless Worker Lackie Drone
Subject: Slippage in Schedule

Dear PTB:

Google Books
Inside CompuServe:
The Easy Start Guide to Online Information and Communications

By Julie Anne Arca and Richard T. Lindstrom
Thousand Oaks, CA: New Riders Pub.
1990
Pg. 268:
TPTB The powers that be

Google Groups: rec.arts.startrek
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST
Otto Heuer #3
5/31/91
(...)
TPTB = The Powers That Be (usually referring to GR or Paramount)

Google Books
Powers That Be
By Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
1993
Pg. 8:
PTB! Powers that be.

Google Books
The Best of Desktop Publishing Forum on CompuServe
By Thom Hartmann, et al.
Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press
1993
Pg. 8:
TPTB The Powers That Be

22 April 1995, The Advocate (Stamford, CT), “A little of everything for sweeps” by Jennifer Raison (Knight-Ridder Newspapers), pg. B7, col. 1:
It’s that time again.

“Finally,” you think. “something interesting on television. The Powers That Be at the networks care about me.”

Well, maybe. But what the PTB really care about is money.

Google Books
Peter Norton’s Computing Fundamentals
By Peter Norton
New York, NY: Glencoe McGraw-Hill
1997
Pg. 157:
PTB Powers that be

Urban Dictionary
TPTB
Shorthand for “The Powers That Be”. Believed to have started in Jossverse, the term refers to the directors, producers, writers, actors, etc. of a certain TV show. Mostly used in cult shows like Stargate, Star Trek, BtVS and the like.
“I was really upset when the TPTB killed off my favorite character.”
by Dr. Lucia Zephyr December 26, 2004

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, March 26, 2015 • Permalink