im·​mi·​nent | \ ˈi-mə-nənt How to pronounce imminent (audio) \

Definition of imminent

: ready to take place : happening soon … systems engineers have become rather blasé about the imminent liftoff.— Steven L. Thompson often used of something bad or dangerous seen as menacingly nearimminent disasterLike books, board games appear headed for imminent demise at the hands of cathode-ray terminals.— Will Manley

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Other Words from imminent

imminently adverb

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 imminent in a Sentence

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the local authorities were momentarily stunned, and began frantically trying to prepare for what they feared were further imminent attacks. — Richard A. Clarke, Atlantic, January/February 2005 The compression squashes the bullet slightly, enabling about a half-dozen spiral grooves cut along the barrel's inner wall to grab the bullet and make it spin. That spin stabilizes the bullet's imminent flight. — Peter Weiss, Science News, 11 Jan. 2003 Plaints about the imminent demise of the language are made in every century. But there is usually nothing inherently wrong with most changes the purists deplore. — Steven Pinker, New York Times, 24 Dec. 1999 We are awaiting their imminent arrival. These patients are facing imminent death.
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Recent Examples on the Web The trial lawyers association remains skeptical that a surge in cases is imminent. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Business groups fear delayed wave of coronavirus lawsuits," 30 July 2020 Experts warn that a looming wave of mental health conditions is imminent, with cases of substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and gun suicides on the rise. Kyu Rhee, Fortune, "There are 3 more curves to flatten in addition to COVID-19’s," 29 July 2020 Found throughout Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the monkeys were not considered at risk of imminent extinction, in part because of this broad range. Rachel Nuwer, National Geographic, "New monkey species found hiding in plain sight," 22 June 2020 Charges in the case do not appear imminent, according to people familiar with the matter. Michael Balsamo And Larry Neumeister, The Christian Science Monitor, "Top Manhattan prosecutor leaves job after standoff with Barr," 20 June 2020 Yahoo, on Saturday, reported a name change was imminent. CBS News, "Washington Redskins reportedly set to drop their name," 13 July 2020 But Levine’s spokesperson said nothing was imminent. USA TODAY, "Scary spikes, missed warnings, saliva tests: News from around our 50 states," 10 July 2020 Warren said no announcement regarding the new football schedule is imminent. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren: “We may not have a college football season” in 2020," 9 July 2020 The White House is seeking to shorten and streamline the environmental review process required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, and its final regulations are imminent. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Clearing up confusion about House GOP stance on net-zero emissions by 2050 target," 7 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imminent.' 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 imminent

1528, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for imminent

Latin imminent-, imminens, present participle of imminēre to project, threaten, from in- + -minēre (akin to Latin mont-, mons mountain) — more at mount

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Time Traveler for imminent

Time Traveler

The first known use of imminent was in 1528

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Statistics for imminent

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imminent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for imminent


How to pronounce imminent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imminent

: happening very soon


im·​mi·​nent | \ ˈi-mə-nənt How to pronounce imminent (audio) \

Kids Definition of imminent

: being about to happen imminent danger

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