driving force - Phrases/Idioms
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The impetus, power, or energy behind something in motion, as in He was clearly the driving force in the new administration. This term transfers the force that sets in motion an engine or vehicle to other enterprises. Ralph Waldo Emerson was among the first to use it figuratively (English Traits, 1856): “The ability of its journals is the driving force.”