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I do not get the meaning of the bold text in the following sentence:

One broken window, left unrepaired for any substantial length of time, instills in the inhabitants of the building a sense of abandonment—a sense that the powers that be don’t care about the building.

I could find two entries in the dictionary regarding having a sense of something:

  • If you have a sense that something is the case, you think that it is the case, although you may not have firm, clear evidence for this belief.
  • have a sense that/get a sense that
    Do you have the sense that you are loved by the public?

But the above sentence I quoted is unlike the dictionary examples and does not make any sense to me. If it was something like "a sense of being don't care about the building", that would have some meaning to me. If it is grammatically correct, please somebody explain it to me.

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Hellion, StoneyB, Mitch, Kristina Lopez Jan 28 '13 at 23:09

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
"Sense" = "feeling" or "belief". If the owners and managers of the building don't repair their damaged building, it's easy for outsiders and residents of the building to feel or believe that the owners and managers don't care about the building. –  user21497 Jan 28 '13 at 7:30
    
The ambiguity was the result of two subsequent "that"s there. Knowing the meaning of "The powers that be" made everything clear. –  Meysam Jan 28 '13 at 7:36
    
I see. That wasn't clear from the question, but I see your point. If you don't know that idiom, then the sentence is confusing. –  user21497 Jan 28 '13 at 7:40
    
I'm voting to close as General Reference on the grounds that OP only asked this question because he didn't understand the idiom the powers that be. (Commonly,TPTB here on ELU) At the very least, the title is hopelessly misleading. –  FumbleFingers Jan 28 '13 at 17:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"The powers that be" is a phrase used to describe higher up people with more power than yourself. Like a manager, etc. So in this example it may be that the building's owners/management are "the powers that be" who don't care much about the building's maintenance.

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1  
And for which we are indebted to William Tyndale. –  Barrie England Jan 28 '13 at 11:52

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