Definition of éminence grise in US English:

éminence grise

nounPlural éminences grises

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

    • ‘But the Hutton inquiry isn't the kind of thing that éminences grises and powers behind thrones are used to.’


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


éminence grise

/ˌemənəns ˈɡrēz//ˌɛmənəns ˈɡriz/