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

Essential Meaning of imminent

: happening very soon We are awaiting their imminent arrival. Their arrival is imminent. See More ExamplesThese patients are facing imminent death. The species is in imminent danger of extinction. [=the species is very close to becoming extinct]Hide

Full 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Like schools of surgeonfish that unite in the face of an imminent threat, the global community must come together in vision, voice and action to combat the alarming realities of the climate crisis. Time, 6 Jan. 2022 There was no imminent threat that required immediate action. Chris Smith, BGR, 4 Jan. 2022 Now, after a 3% fall in a week, will RHHBY stock continue its downward trajectory over the coming weeks, or is a recovery in the stock imminent? Trefis Team, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021 The crisis in some of sub-Saharan Africa's poorest states presents an imminent threat to Europe's security, and by extension the United States, analysts say, in providing a secure and spacious breeding ground for terror networks. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 Based on its findings, it was determined there was no imminent threat to students' safety, therefore making a lockdown unnecessary. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 21 Dec. 2021 At times, the error involved quicksilver intelligence of an imminent threat. New York Times, 18 Dec. 2021 The vehicle driven by Ahmadi – the intended target of the strike — was assessed at the time as an imminent threat to U.S. forces at Hamid Karzai International Airport, 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away. NBC News, 13 Dec. 2021 There were far fewer restrictions for defensive strikes that were meant to protect allied forces under imminent threat of harm. Arkansas Online, 12 Dec. 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

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The first known use of imminent was in 1528

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imminent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 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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