Eminent or imminent, which are you?

Eminent or imminent?  This can be tricky since the two words sound very much the same.  Pronunciation and enunciation are important. 

This fact came to mind when I was watching television news last night.  The “talking head” was saying someone was in danger.  I could not really tell which word was used.  (I don’t have closed caption to help me out.)

The correct word in this case would be imminent.

The definition of imminent is: likely to occur at any moment, looming or pending.  A coming blizzard could be an imminent threat.

Use “eminent” when you want to refer to someone who is distinguished, prominent, or high in repute; use “imminent” when you want to label something as likely to happen at any moment.

A good way to remember it is that imminent comes from the Latin word minere that means “to project or overhang.”

Eminent, on the other hand, means distinguished or prominent.

The word is derived from the Latin word eminere that means “to stand out.”

A professor may be eminent.

Now class, if you are still with me, let’s try a slight digression.  There is also a word immanent. It refers to spirituality and means “inherent” or “to remain within.”  Its Latin roots are the word in manere that means to – “to remain within.” referring to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence.

Additionally, it can mean  “of acts that take place solely in the mind.”

Class dismissed.


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