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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Officials suggested that the city would close the park for repairs, and residents recognized that a final sweep was imminent. Tracy Rosenthal, The New Republic, 19 May 2022 His imminent departure, on the back of Higgins’ exit six months ago, has rocked U.S. cricket and the quest for the ICC’s starry-eyed administrators to turbocharge cricket in the world’s biggest sports market. Tristan Lavalette, Forbes, 18 May 2022 Other than Matt Grzelcyk, who will have right shoulder surgery, Sweeney doesn’t believe other surgeries are imminent. Matt Porter,, 18 May 2022 Mackey said a release of a mobile version of Aim Lab is imminent. Mikhail Klimentov, Washington Post, 18 May 2022 Bernanke also warned in the interview with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin that stagflation may be imminent. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 16 May 2022 More swimsuits are imminent in the brand's larger summer collection, due out in June. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 11 May 2022 The prisoners didn’t know at the time these were warning letters to civilians that an atomic bombing was imminent and several cities were targeted. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 May 2022 While a full-scale massacre isn’t necessarily imminent, investors should brace for a nasty mauling. Megha Mandavia, WSJ, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of imminent

1528, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for imminent

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

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The first known use of imminent was in 1528

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imminent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for imminent


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

Kids Definition of imminent

: being about to happen imminent danger

More from Merriam-Webster on imminent

Nglish: Translation of imminent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imminent for Arabic Speakers


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