Immanent, Imminent, Eminent

Immanent

The word immanent means inherent, in-dwelling, within. It comes from Latin in manere (to remain). It is often used in theology to refer to the way God dwells within things.

Example:

The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins described God’s immanence in all living things.

Imminent

Imminent is an adjective that means that something is about to happen. It also comes from Latin–in this case in minere (to project, overhang, impend). Think of a cliff that looms over you. Because of this origin the word is often associated with danger.

Example:

A crisis is imminent.

Eminent

To be eminent is to be famous and respected. Interesting, it has a similar origin as imminent. It is a combination of ex (out of) and minere (to project, overhang). Literally, then, eminent means to stick out, to be prominent.

Difference

If you want to be eminent (respected), it may help you to remember that immanent refers to things that are inherent and innate, whereas imminent refers to things that are about to happen.

Example:

The eminent theologian Ernest Wainscotting believed in God’s immanence, but he did not think the end of the world was imminent.

 

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