The Danger of Misuse Is Imminent

I give extra Brownie points to writers who can keep these three words straight: imminent, eminent, and immanent. Maybe you didn’t even know there were three words like this, all with different meanings. They sound so alike, it really gives one pause—including me. So when I come across one of these, I have to run through all three in my head to make sure the correct word is being used in context.

Here are the definitions of these words:

  • Imminent: certain and very near. “You are in imminent danger!” (I try to connect this with immediate, which also has two m’s and one e.)
  • Eminent: distinguished, famous OR standing out, prominent. “Don’t you recognize that eminent doctor?” (eminent and prominent each have only one m.)
  • Immanent: indwelling, inherent (usually a theological term). “The immanent goodness of God.” (You’ll have to figure out a way to remember this one.)

How about this: “The eminent Reverend Smith will be giving his discourse imminently on the immanent power of the Holy Spirit.”


6 Responses to “The Danger of Misuse Is Imminent”

  1. Beth Havey June 28, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    The tool to remember is great. Thanks, Beth Havey

  2. Robin Lythgoe June 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Coincidentally, I recently read an introductory chapter to a book that misused “eminent.” I like your idea for remembering them. There are so many little things to remember in this job, and all these little tools and tips sure help!

  3. Kingsley Agu June 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    “The eminent Reverend Smith will be giving his discourse imminently on the immanent power of the Holy Spirit.”

    I think this will help me remember them a lot easier.. Thanks.

  4. LKWatts June 30, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Hi Susanne,

    The trouble with the English language is that there are so many similar sounding words. One of my partner’s favourite muddles is depraved and deprived. He always gets them mixed up, bless him.

  5. Anna June 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Thanks for the effort. Now that I know there are three, I’ll be more careful.


    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  6. Jessica Flory July 1, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    Whoa… I didn’t even know that immanent was a word. Haha thanks for sharing the difference between these!

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