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What Is 'TPTB'? What Does TPTB Mean?

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Question: What Is 'TPTB'? What Does TPTB Mean?
Answer: "TPTB" is "The Powers that Be". This is internet shorthand for describing 'upper management' or 'the authorities in charge, whose names we don't even know'. TPTB is commonly used when you are discussing the organization or current political situation, and you want make reference to the management who truly control the situation.

TPTB can be spelled in all lowercase or all uppercase; both versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in all uppercase, lest you be accused of shouting online.

Example of TPTB usage:

  • (User 1) Our customer service desk sucks. We keep trying to push people off the phone within 4 minutes, and if in doubt, we tell them to reformat their hard drives. Stoooopid!
  • (User 2) You can't blame the CSR people, they are just doing what management tells them to do.
  • (User 3) Yeah, well, if TPTB would just pull their heads out of their butts, our CSR's could actually do an effective job of helping our customers instead of just giving them 4 minutes of lipservice and bad advice..


Another example of TPTB usage:

  • (User 1, instant message) Why do we have to fill out these stupid forms now? Aren't the work orders enough to capture this?
  • (User 2) I dunno. TPTB want to capture more data, I guess.
  • (User 1) Well, TPTB need a slap to the head. The data on these forms is the same as the data in the work order 'details' field.


The TPTB expression, like many cultural curiousities of the Internet, is a part of modern English communication.

Read more Internet abbreviations and shorthand expressions...

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