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Sir Humphrey - definition and synonyms

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noun [countable] mainly journalism Sir Humphrey pronunciation in British English /sə(r) ˈhʌmfri/
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singularSir Humphrey
pluralSir Humphreys
 
  1. a senior civil servant (=government official who is not elected) who influences government decisions by clever indirect methods
    The new rules governing freedom of information will allow the Sir Humphreys of Whitehall to exercise effective power without being subject to public scrutiny.
Word story
From Sir Humphrey Appleby, a character in an old British television series called ‘Yes Minister’.
 

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