Definition of éminence grise in English:

éminence grise

nounéminences grises

  • 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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

éminence grise

/ˌɛmɪnɒ̃s ˈɡriːz/