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Imminent vs. Eminent: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 6, 2023
Imminent means about to happen or impending, while eminent refers to a person or thing that is famous and respected within a particular sphere.

Key Differences

Imminent describes something that is likely to occur at any moment, often carrying a sense of urgency. Eminent, on the other hand, denotes a high status or outstanding quality in a particular field, such as an eminent scientist.
The use of imminent usually conveys a sense of immediacy and proximity in time, such as an imminent threat. While, eminent is used to describe individuals who are distinguished or noteworthy in their field, like an eminent author.
Imminent can be used to describe events, both positive and negative, that are expected to happen soon. However, eminent often implies a positive recognition or high standing achieved through success or influence.
In literature, imminent is often used to create suspense or to signal an upcoming pivotal moment. Eminent is frequently used to confer respect or to highlight the achievements and reputation of a person or entity.
The word imminent is often associated with situations requiring immediate attention or preparation. Eminent is typically associated with longstanding respect and recognition earned over time.

Comparison Chart


About to happen or impending
Famous and respected within a particular sphere

Usage Context

Often refers to events or situations
Usually refers to people or their achievements


Sense of immediacy and urgency
High status, distinction, or quality

Example Subjects

Events, dangers, opportunities
Scientists, authors, leaders

Temporal Nature

Relates to near future
Relates to an established position or respect

Imminent and Eminent Definitions


About to happen very soon.
The dark clouds signaled that a storm was imminent.


Famous and respected within a particular sphere.
She was an eminent figure in the field of biology.


Impending or looming in the near future.
The announcement of the results was imminent.


Distinguished or noteworthy.
The conference was attended by several eminent scientists.


Approaching or forthcoming.
They were on high alert for the imminent danger.


Standing out above others; prominent.
His work made him an eminent personality in literature.


On the verge of occurring.
The launch of the new product was imminent.


Renowned and highly regarded.
He was an eminent composer of his time.


Imminently likely or expected.
A breakthrough in negotiations seemed imminent.


Exalted in rank or reputation.
The award was given to an eminent historian.


About to occur; impending
In imminent danger.


Well-known and respected, especially for achievement in a particular field
An eminent historian.


About to happen, occur, or take place very soon, especially of something which won't last long.


Outstanding or remarkable
Handled the situation with eminent skill.


Threatening to occur immediately; near at hand; impending; - said especially of misfortune or peril.


Being such in full measure; complete; absolute
"the eminent sanity, good-humor and judgement you always display in pushing matters you have at heart" (Theodore Roosevelt).


Full of danger; threatening; menacing; perilous.
Hairbreadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach.


Towering or standing out above others; prominent
An eminent peak.


With upon) Bent upon; attentive to.
Their eyes ever imminent upon worldly matters.
Three times to-dayYou have defended me from imminent death.
No story I unfold of public woes,Nor bear advices of impending foes.
Fierce faces threatening war.


Noteworthy, remarkable, great.
His eminent good sense has been a godsend to this project.


Close in time; about to occur;
Retribution is at hand
Some people believe the day of judgment is close at hand
In imminent danger
His impending retirement


(of a person) Distinguished, important, noteworthy.
In later years, the professor became known as an eminent historian.


(archaic) High, lofty.


High; lofty; towering; prominent.


Being, metaphorically, above others, whether by birth, high station, merit, or virtue; high in public estimation; distinguished; conspicuous; as, an eminent station; an eminent historian, statements, statesman, or saint.


(used of persons) standing above others in character or attainment or reputation;
Our distinguished professor
An eminent scholar
A great statesman


Standing above others in quality or position;
People in high places
The high priest
Eminent members of the community


Having achieved eminence;
An eminent physician


Of imposing height; especially standing out above others;
An eminent peak
Lofty mountains
The soaring spires of the cathedral
Towering iceburgs


Is imminent related to a specific time frame?

Imminent usually implies something happening in the very near future.

What does imminent signify?

Imminent signifies something about to happen in the near future.

How is eminent used in a sentence?

Eminent is used to describe someone famous and respected in their field.

Is eminent always a positive descriptor?

Eminent is generally positive, denoting respect and high standing.

Can imminent be used for both good and bad events?

Yes, imminent can refer to both positive and negative upcoming events.

What type of achievements does eminent refer to?

Eminent refers to significant and notable achievements in a particular area.

Can eminent refer to a place?

Rarely, as eminent is mainly used to describe people or their achievements.

Can a person become eminent overnight?

Becoming eminent usually takes time and involves gaining widespread respect.

How does context affect the use of imminent?

Context shapes how imminent is interpreted, particularly the nature and timing of the event.

Can imminent be prevented?

Depending on the situation, some imminent events can be prevented or mitigated.

Is eminent a subjective term?

Eminent can be somewhat subjective, as it's based on recognition and respect.

Does eminent imply a lifelong reputation?

Eminent often implies a reputation that is long-established and widely recognized.

Can a situation be both imminent and eminent?

No, these terms refer to different concepts; a situation cannot be both.

Can inanimate objects be described as imminent?

Imminent is typically used for events or situations, not inanimate objects.

Does imminent suggest immediacy?

Yes, imminent often conveys a sense of immediacy and urgency.

Can imminent change based on new information?

Yes, what is considered imminent can change with new data or circumstances.

Does eminent status last forever?

Eminent status can be long-lasting, but it may change with time and societal shifts.

Is imminent used in forecasting?

Yes, imminent is often used in forecasting upcoming events or conditions.

What fields commonly use the term eminent?

Eminent is commonly used in academic, scientific, and artistic fields.

Do people aspire to be eminent?

Yes, many aspire to be eminent in their fields as a sign of success and respect.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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