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moving spirit (plural moving spirits)

  1. Someone who provides significant impetus or guidance in a given venture, movement, enterprise etc.
    • 1932, Duff Cooper, Talleyrand, Folio Society 2010, p. 106:
      At the beginning of the year 1804 the most formidable conspiracy which had yet threatened the government and the life of Napoleon was discovered. […] Georges Cadoudal, the Breton peasant, who was the very soul of the royalist party, was the moving spirit.
    • 1999, Joyce Crick, translating Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Oxford 2008, p. 163:
      We had formed a conspiracy against an unpopular and ignorant teacher. Its moving spirit [transl. Seele] was a fellow-student who seems since then to have taken Henry VIII of England as his model.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, p. 131:
      Pompadour was the moving spirit in the elegant refurbishment of most of the royal residences, and in the development of a number of minor residences such as Crécy, Bellevue and the Trianon, in all of which she indulged the king's penchant for intimacy and privacy.
    • 2005, Tony Russell, The Guardian, 11 Jun 2005:
      A couple of years later, he met Timothy Duffy, who was the moving spirit behind the Music Maker Relief Foundation.