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éminence grise

Someone who is powerful in a particular area without having an official title. The phrase, French for "grey eminence," originally applied to one of Cardinal Richelieu's advisors, a monk who wore a grey robe. A: "Why should I worry about what Bob thinks? He doesn't even have a title!" B: "Yes, but he's the éminence grise of the firm, and the partners really value his opinion."
See also: eminence

gray eminence

The power behind the throne; a person who wields considerable power but secretly or surreptitiously. The term is a translation from the French of éminence grise. This phrase originally referred to François Leclerc du Tremblay (1577–1638), the trusted behind-the-scenes adviser of Cardinal Richelieu. The term came into English in the early 1940s when Aldous Huxley wrote a book about Tremblay entitled Grey Eminence (1941). See also power behind the throne.
See also: eminence, gray
References in classic literature ?
I know all that my house owes to your eminence," replied the king, haughtily, "and you may believe well that I, on my part, shall never forget it.
The eminences striking so grandiosely spurious postures of tremendous mental faculties and immense resourcefulness are perceptibly dismayingly poor on thought and depth.
In any case, the eminences must understand after every conflict, peace has inevitably to come finally.
Now, your Eminences, your Graces, and your Excellencies, our thanks and prayers are with you in this present pivotal struggle for Faith and goodness.
Stanton Evans, William Rusher, and other right-wing eminences, seeks to redress that imbalance.
There are five or six eminences to the anterior loop of each tooth.
While its early tours featured primarily choreography by Mark Morris, the current repertoire includes works by such eminences as Merce Cunningham, Hanya Holm, Jerome Robbins, and Twyla Tharp.