Definition of éminence grise in English:

éminence grise


  • A person who exercises power or influence in a certain sphere without holding an official position.

    ‘for years he has been an éminence grise operating in the shadows of party policy-making’
    • ‘But the Hutton inquiry isn't the kind of thing that éminences grises and powers behind thrones are used to.’


1930s: French, literally ‘grey eminence’. The term was originally applied to Cardinal Richelieu's grey-cloaked private secretary, Père Joseph (1577–1638).


éminence grise

/ˌɛmɪnɒ̃s ˈɡriːz/