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 near imminent 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 By throwing out the question, Morris was signaling his interest in returning to his roots as a high school coach and — at least for the imminent future — leaving behind what once appeared to be a promising, up-and-coming college coaching career. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "How Chad Morris landed in Allen — and how he’s approaching sky-high expectations that come with being Eagles’ head coach," 1 Apr. 2021 Another system emits a short interference signal if an imminent collision is detected, triggering a reflex in the human ear that can help reduce hearing loss in the event of an accident. Robert Ross, Robb Report, "Drive Review: Why These Two Mercedes SUVs Belong in the Same Garage," 1 Apr. 2021 Evans, wife of the collage artist John Evans, is naked, her belly and breasts swollen by the imminent arrival of twins. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "It’s Time to Put Alice Neel in Her Rightful Place in the Pantheon," 1 Apr. 2021 Already, much of California’s farm country faces imminent water cutbacks while several communities, including Marin County and parts of Napa, Sonoma and Santa Clara counties, are asking customers for voluntary reductions. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, "Little snow and little rain mean drought - dry and difficult months lie ahead for California," 31 Mar. 2021 Others say that Google was within its rights to protect the company’s products from imminent attacks that could harm end-users. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "A massive hack that Google thwarted was actually a counterterrorism operation," 28 Mar. 2021 The Irregulars ends on a surprisingly optimistic note for a Netflix show about the imminent Victorian era apocalypse. Ariana Romero,, "The Irregulars Probably Already Revealed Its Season 2 Villain," 28 Mar. 2021 If there's imminent reasons for your departure, which there were. Mike Hart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Is Marquette a job Shaka Smart should have left Texas for?," 28 Mar. 2021 California officials foreshadowed the boost in supply Thursday in announcing an imminent and dramatic expansion of the state’s vaccine eligibility. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, "With a big boost coming in the COVID-19 vaccine supply, California expands eligibility," 26 Mar. 2021

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

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Imminent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for imminent



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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Comments on imminent

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