gray man


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Alternative formsEdit


gray (bland, indistinct) +‎ man (person).


gray man (plural gray men)

  1. An average, forgettable man who does not draw attention or stand out in a crowd.
    • 1996, "Colby's Body Found Along River Shore", Washington Post, Todd Shields, ISSN 0190-8286
      He was said to be a perfect match for his own description of the ideal intelligence officer, "the traditional gray man, so inconspicuous that he can never catch a waiter's eye in a restaurant."
    • 2000, "Cassidy's Run: The Secret Spy War Over Nerve Gas", David Wise, pg.13-3, →ISBN
      But perhaps that is why he was chosen for his role — a gray man who blended almost invisibly into the background.
    • 2003, "Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency", W. Thomas Smith, pg.113, →ISBN
      "Gray man" is an espionage term describing the "perfect" covert operator.
    • 2012, "Spycraft for Nerds: Brainy Tips for Winning at Life", Wired Magazine, Mary H.K. Choi, ISSN 1059-1028
      “Your goal is to be the gray man,” says Clinton Emerson, a former Navy SEAL and trainer for the CIA and NSA who now works at the special-ops site SOFREP.
    • 2015, "Becoming The ‘Gray Man’: 10 Ways to Blend In and Survive", Ballistic Magazine, Len Waldron, ISSN 2573-0290, archived at Wayback Machine on 10 May 2019
      The Gray Man is in between. He is neither blinged-out nor loud, but also not a head-down, foot-shuffling sheep.
    • 2016, "‘Bridge of Spies’: The True Story is Even Stranger Than Fiction", ProPublica
      A gray man in a gray suit slips through the shadows in a black-and-white world carrying encrypted secrets.
    • 2017, "How Special Ops Instructors View Candidates", Military, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Stew Smith, archived at Wayback Machine on 12 October 2017
      The Gray Man does not stand out negatively amongst the instructors, but receives good peer evaluations from his classmates.
    • 2018, "The Labyrinth Index", Charles Stross, pg.149, →ISBN
      There is, in spycraft, a type of professional known as a Gray Man, so-called because they're almost impossible to spot.


See alsoEdit