Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


From what rumour says, we take it that the Powers-that-be are very pleased with the concert.

There is some talk among the powers-that-be of making this a division point.

I had cooked dinner for some of the powers-that-be from Washington, and for dessert I made three most wonderful lemon pies.

It was believed that the powers-that-be would take every precaution in order to avoid a rupture.

Far off in London the powers-that-be were praying that this blonde and bearded Boer could successfully man the imperial breach.

The "powers-that-be" seem to be blind to the fact that a trained spy would not attempt to use a conspicuous camera.

Here, I guess, we're going to wait for the powers-that-be to judge us and give us our sentence.


c.1300, "ability; ability to act or do; strength, vigor, might," especially in battle; "efficacy; control, mastery, lordship, dominion; legal power or authority; authorization; military force, an army," from Anglo-French pouair, Old French povoir, noun use of the infinitive, "to be able," earlier podir (9c.), from Vulgar Latin *potere, from Latin potis "powerful" (see potent).

Meaning "one who has power" is late 14c. Meaning "specific ability or capacity" is from early 15c. Meaning "a state or nation with regard to international authority or influence" [OED] is from 1726. Used for "a large number of" from 1660s. Meaning "energy available for work is from 1727. Sense of "electrical supply" is from 1896.

Phrase the powers that be is from Rom. xiii:1. As a statement wishing good luck, more power to (someone) is recorded from 1842. A power play in ice hockey so called by 1940. Power failure is from 1911; power steering from 1921.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.