Definition of éminence grise in English:

éminence grise

Line breaks: émi|nence grise
Pronunciation: /ˌɛmɪnɒ̃s ˈgriːz

noun (plural éminences grises pronunc. same)

  • 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
    More example sentences
    • 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).

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