em·​i·​nent | \ ˈe-mə-nənt How to pronounce eminent (audio) \

Essential Meaning of eminent

: successful, well-known and respected an eminent physician

Full Definition of eminent

1 : exhibiting eminence especially in standing above others in some quality or position : prominent
2 : standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted : conspicuous
3 : jutting out : projecting

Choose the Right Synonym for eminent

famous, renowned, celebrated, noted, notorious, distinguished, eminent, illustrious mean known far and wide. famous implies little more than the fact of being, sometimes briefly, widely and popularly known. a famous actress renowned implies more glory and acclamation. one of the most renowned figures in sports history celebrated implies notice and attention especially in print. the most celebrated beauty of her day noted suggests well-deserved public attention. the noted mystery writer notorious frequently adds to famous an implication of questionableness or evil. a notorious gangster distinguished implies acknowledged excellence or superiority. a distinguished scientist who won the Nobel Prize eminent implies even greater prominence for outstanding quality or character. the country's most eminent writers illustrious stresses enduring honor and glory attached to a deed or person. illustrious war heroes

On Imminent and Eminent

Imminent bears a close resemblance to eminent, and native English-speakers can be excused if they sometimes have to check their spelling. No surprise, really, since the two, despite their very distinct meanings, come from near-identical sources. The Latin minēre means basically “to project, overhang,” and it forms the root of other Latin words. One added the prefix e-, meaning “out from,” to produce eminēre, “to stand out”; another took the prefix im-, meaning “upon,” and became imminēre, “to project.” The difference between “stand out” and “project” is obviously small. Still, even when eminent and imminent first appeared as English words in the 15th and 16th centuries respectively, they were clearly distinct in meaning, imminent’s prefix having strengthened the “overhang” sense of minēre to give the word its frequent suggestion of looming threat.

Examples of eminent in a Sentence

The trend discerned by Wilde a century ago, of course, has only accelerated in recent years, as the line between trashy celebrity exposés and serious biographies of eminent artists, statesmen and thinkers has grown increasingly blurred. — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 20 May 1994 Next year sees the 150th anniversary of the 'invention' of the dinosaurs by the eminent English anatomist and palaeontologist, Richard Owen. — Nicholas Fraser, Nature, 20 & 27 Dec. 1990 many eminent surgeons are on the hospital's staff
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Recent Examples on the Web One such was Dale Clevenger, the eminent French hornist. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 12 Jan. 2022 In January, she was named the Kresge Foundation's eminent artist of the year for her contributions and professional achievements in the Detroit arts scene. NBC News, 11 Jan. 2022 After an hour-long delay last Thursday, the final day of action proceeded without one of the sport’s pre-eminent stars. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, 4 Jan. 2022 In one case, the pre-eminent vaccine company Merck got on board. New York Times, 23 Dec. 2021 However, with the growth of the contest over the years, the desire for reform was eminent, leading to the bathing suit segment being removed in efforts for contestants to be judged on talent performances and interviews. Brittany Chambers, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 The eminent Harvard historian of China John King Fairbank wrote decades ago that having ritual displays of foreign adulation and tribute had always been seen as central to the legitimacy of China’s leaders and ultimately to its stability. Howard W. French, The New York Review of Books, 12 Mar. 2020 The Elders organization is an independent group of eminent global leaders. Marianne Schnall, Forbes, 26 Dec. 2021 By contrast, the NASEM report was reviewed by 13 experts, with the response to review overseen by two eminent economists with expertise relevant to the report. WSJ, 2 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eminent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eminent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for eminent

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin eminent-, eminens, present participle of eminēre to stand out, from e- + -minēre; akin to Latin mont-, mons mountain — more at mount

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Time Traveler for eminent

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The first known use of eminent was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

18 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Eminent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eminent. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for eminent


em·​i·​nent | \ ˈe-mə-nənt How to pronounce eminent (audio) \

Kids Definition of eminent

: successful, well-known, and respected an eminent physician

More from Merriam-Webster on eminent

Nglish: Translation of eminent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eminent for Arabic Speakers


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