Tim from Old Mission
Peninsula commented that imminent
and eminent seem to be
increasingly confused, even on national newscasts. While they do sound alike
when said aloud, there is a real distinction.
Imminent means that
something is about to happen. An event is impending, looming, just around the
corner. For some reason—probably
its Latin progenitor—negative things are more likely to be called imminent than
positive happenings. Storms, invasions, and market crashes are imminent. Birthdays,
weddings, and awards are approaching. The Latin source was imminere, to project or overhang in a threatening way,
like a rock slide waiting to happen.
Eminent came from the
Latin eminere, to project. It
is a close cousin, but in this case, prominence and height were emphasized, not
danger. Exalted, dignified, distinguished, and noteworthy would be synonyms.
We may add immanent to the mix. It means indwelling or inherent, and
it is rooted in the Latin immanere,
to dwell or remain within. Its antonym would be transcendent, mirroring the
matching pair internal and external.
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