text box Words that cause confusion

eminent, immanent, imminent

Eminent, immanent, and imminent are all adjectives. (The noun forms are eminence, immanence, and imminence).

With a meaning similar to “inherent,” immanence is often part of philosophical discussions about whether divinity permeates (dwells within) or transcends (is separate from) a Supreme Being’s creations. Eminence is used in some religions (e.g., Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox) when addressing certain members of the clergy.

Something (or someone) eminent stands out (one meaning is to jut out or project); thus, an eminent person stands out from the crowd in some respect. A preeminent (sometimes hyphenated, pre-eminent) person is outstanding and superior to all others.

If something is imminent, it is about to happen (immediately!).

[Immanant is a mathematical term.]

Examples:

eminent

(adjective): The eminent scholar approached the podium.

A team of eminent researchers gathered to discuss the latest findings.

[Note that eminent domain (noun) is a legal doctrine that permits a government to take private property for public use.]

eminence

(noun): He rose to eminence during the Renaissance. (prominence would also work here)

“Good morning, Your Eminence.”

imminent

(adjective): I was in imminent danger of being discovered and had to act quickly.

Her death is imminent.

immanent

(adjective): Do you believe that God is transcendent to creation or immanent throughout it?

The immanent beauty of nature could not be duplicated.

 

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