What does TPTB stand for online?

The powers that be

TPTB may refer to any figure that has authority. Its origins date back to the late 1990s when people shortened the "the powers that be" phrase when messaging online and, eventually, texting on cell phones.

Examples of authoritative figures people may refer to with TPTB include:

  • A boss
  • A chatroom or online forum administrator
  • A game master for an online video game
  • A TV show writer, producer, creator, etc.
  • A government, or possibly a secret organization
  • A type of cosmic being(s)

For example, your coworker may message you, "i hope to get off in time for your bday party. all depends on tptb." Or, an angry gamer may message a group, "TPTB need to ban all these trolls in here trying to sabotage our campaign."


According to TPTB, that guy who was kicked from the chat channel won't be allowed back in again
Good. He was so rude
TPTB post on Reddit
TPTB post on Reddit

Related Slang


Updated December 19, 2023

TPTB definition by

This page explains what the acronym "TPTB" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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