Two words that are similar are enough to drive this writer crazy, but when there are three that actually give me pause concerning spelling, definition, and usage, well, that’s when the ole Google search bar gets quite a workout on my laptop. Today’s The Weight of Words focuses on eminent vs. imminent vs. immanent.
And by the way, I don’t really use my Google search bar to look up words. That’s what Grammarist is for. Per the website:
Someone or something that is eminent is of high rank, noteworthy, distinguished, or prominent. An accomplished world leader and a respected intellectual, for instance, are eminent.
Something that is imminent is (1) very near or (2) impending. For example, when the weather forecast calls for a 100% chance of thunderstorms, we might say that storms are imminent.
Something that is immanent exists within or is inherent to something else. The word is often used in reference to spiritual or otherwise nonmaterial things. For example, a spiritual person might say that God’s power is immanent to the natural world.
Though the three adjectives are not exact homophones, they are similar enough to engender occasional confusion. Immanent in particular is very often used in place of imminent in popular usage, and imminent and eminent are also frequently mixed up.
Clear as mud? Now go forth and use them!