Difference Between Imminent and Eminent

Key Difference – Imminent vs Eminent

The words imminent and eminent can be very confusing to discern, even though there is a difference between the two words. In the English language, there are many words that are pronounced in a similar way, although they refer to two complete different things. The words imminent and eminent are fine examples for this confusion. The key difference between imminent and eminent is that the word imminent can be understood as ‘about to happen’ while the word eminent can be understood as ‘distinguished.’ Before moving on to a further comprehension of the difference between the words, it would be beneficial to define the two words. First let us begin with the word imminent.

What is Imminent?

The word imminent can be understood as about to happen. For instance, ‘imminent danger’ is a situation where the adjective truly brings out the meaning of the impending destruction. This, however, does not denote that the adjective imminent should only be used in relation to negative situations. On the contrary, it can be used for both positive situations as well as for negative situations. Let us comprehend this through some examples.

We were unaware of the imminent danger at the time.

In this example, it is quite clear that the adjective ‘imminent’ highlights a negative event that is about to take place, of which, the speakers were not aware by that time.

The economists predict that based on the current economic conditions of the country that a crisis is imminent.

Once again, in this example, the idea of an economic crisis that is about to take place is highlighted through the usage of the word ‘imminent’.

The success of the young pianist was imminent as suggested by the majority.

Unlike in the previous examples, where the adjective was used in order to bring out a negative idea, in the example presented above, a positive idea is highlighted. Now, let us move on to the next word.

Difference Between Imminent and Eminent

An economic crisis is imminent.

What is Eminent?

The word eminent can be understood as distinguished. This word is used in the form of an adjective (which is used to describe a noun). By placing the word eminent, the speaker or writer is able to highlight the fact that the individual of whom they are referring to is distinguished. This clearly separates the person from others as he is someone who is worthy of respect.

Let us look at some examples in order to comprehend the usage of the word.

He is an eminent novelist of our time.

She is one of the few eminent characters in the field.

In both examples, by using the adjective ‘eminent’, a clear position of superiority is being marked as the individuals of whom the writer speaks of are given respect and considered above others in their talents, intelligence, etc. It is also necessary to highlight that the word eminent is also used in legal jargon to refer to eminent domains.

This highlights that although the two words sound similar, when paying attention to the meanings they are different. This difference can be summarized as follows.

Imminent vs Eminent Key Difference

Thomas Hardy was an eminent novelist.

What is the Difference Between Imminent and Eminent?

Definitions of Imminent and Eminent:

Imminent: The word imminent can be understood as about to happen.

Eminent: The word eminent can be understood as distinguished.

Characteristics of Imminent and Eminent:


Imminent:  The word imminent highlights that something is about to occur.

Eminent: The word eminent highlights the superiority of an individual and also that he or she is valued and respected.


Imminent: This word is most used for situations.

Eminent: This is used for individuals.


Imminent: Imminent is used as an adjective.

Eminent: Similar to imminent, eminent is also an adjective.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Mótmælendur við Alþingishúsið” by Haukurth – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

2. “Thomashardy restored” by Bain News Service, publisher – [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons