It petto. In secrecy, in reserve (Italian, in the breast). The pope creates cardinals in petto —i.e. in his own
mind - and keeps the appointment to himself till he thinks proper to
“Belgium, a department of France in petto —i.e. in
the intention of the people.” —The Herald, 1837.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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