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

This, in turn, means that the extension would only have been approved on the understanding that an election was imminent. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Boris Johnson is out of Brexit ideas," 10 Sep. 2019 Callahan’s return may not be imminent so Yiadom will need to play better. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Fangio laments lost chances in the red zone," 10 Sep. 2019 Over the past week, the Trump administration has signaled an agreement was imminent. Allan Smith, NBC News, "Pompeo defends plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David," 8 Sep. 2019 And a source says that a deal for The Assistant is imminent. Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Toronto: The #MeToo Reckoning Comes to the Big Screen," 7 Sep. 2019 Completion of its $4.7bn acquisition of Oaktree Capital, a credit-investment firm, is imminent. The Economist, "How a Canadian firm has taken on Wall Street’s private-equity titans," 29 Aug. 2019 Armis researchers are presenting Urgent 11 as posing a serious and imminent threat, potentially at the scale of the Windows vulnerabilities that allowed the 2016 WannaCry worm to sow worldwide disruptions. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "200 million devices—some mission-critical—vulnerable to remote takeover," 29 July 2019 Completion of its $4.7bn acquisition of Oaktree Capital, a credit-investment firm, is imminent. The Economist, "How a Canadian firm has taken on Wall Street’s private-equity titans," 31 Aug. 2019 Now, investors are hopeful that progress might be imminent, even if details are scant, said Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni research. Taylor Telford, Washington Post, "Stock futures rise sharply after China says it’s opposed to further escalation in trade war," 29 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for imminent

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for imminent

The first known use of imminent was in 1528

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on imminent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imminent

Spanish Central: Translation of imminent

Nglish: Translation of imminent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imminent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on imminent

What made you want to look up imminent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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