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powers that be, the

Those in control, the authorities, as in Our plan was vetoed by the powers that be. This expression appeared in William Tyndale's 1526 translation of the Bible (Romans 13:1): “The powers that be are ordained of God.”

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.