im·​mi·​nent ˈi-mə-nənt How to pronounce imminent (audio)
: 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 near
imminent disaster
Like books, board games appear headed for imminent demise at the hands of cathode-ray terminals.Will Manley
imminently adverb

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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.
Recent Examples on the Web Astronomers are detecting tell-tale signs of an imminent eruption. Dean Regas, The Enquirer, 13 July 2024 Private conversations suggested a statement of support from the crucial bloc was imminent after a faltering debate performance two weeks ago induced panic that the president could not beat Donald Trump in November. Theodoric Meyer, Washington Post, 12 July 2024 Testing for the safety of lane-keeping systems is more challenging than other crash-avoidance systems, because it must be actively engaged by the driver as opposed to constantly monitoring for danger, like an imminent forward crash. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 12 July 2024 The new law allows a judge to temporarily bar someone who poses an imminent threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for imminent 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'imminent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English imynent, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French iminent, emynant, borrowed from Latin imminent-, imminens, present participle of imminēre "to rise up, project so as to overhang (of a structure or natural feature), be intent, impend (of something unpleasant or dangerous), threaten," from im- im- + -minēre, taken to mean "stand out, rise above" (unattested without a prefix) — more at minatory

First Known Use

1528, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of imminent was in 1528

Dictionary Entries Near imminent

Cite this Entry

“Imminent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​mi·​nent ˈim-ə-nənt How to pronounce imminent (audio)
: being about to happen
in imminent danger
imminently adverb

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