Question: More and more, I see or hear the phrase "the powers that be". I first recall hearing this often on Angel in reference to the gods passing on visions. Do you know where this phrase came from? Did it get into pop culture through Angel, or something before that? — Amber P., Toronto, Ont., Canada

Televisionary: I can't say for sure which show introduced that to TV, Amber, but I'm certain you'd have to go a little farther back than Angel. As for the origin of the phrase itself, you'd have to go a ways back to the dawn of TV technology in 1927, when Philo T. Farnsworth first demonstrated a working television system (he called it an "orthicon").

The phrase is biblical, from Romans 13:1. The entire quote is: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: The powers that be are ordained of God."