Eminent vs. Immanent vs. Imminent

How to use "eminent," "immanent," and "imminent" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

An eminent person is “outstanding, prominent, well known, well respected”—usually for great accomplishments and/or scholarly attainments:

eminent physician
eminent professor
eminent domain (a law term)

Something imminent is “about to happen”:

imminent arrival of the guests
imminent danger

You’re not likely to see the rarely used homophone immanent on standardized tests (or anywhere else, for that matter), but be aware that it means “inherent; present within a particular domain.” It often appears in religious contexts, for example, to denote the pervasive presence of God in the world (as opposed to being separate from and above the world).

holiness immanent in nature

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.