No, it's not the name of the latest rapper from Detroit — eminent describes anyone who's famous. But imminent refers to something about to happen, like the next big thing's imminent rise to the top. These two words sound the same to some, but they're unrelated.
Someone who's eminent is totally rocking out. This eminent person is distinguished, grand, soaring high above the rest of us chumps. In legalese, eminent domain is when the government takes over private property for public use. Here are examples of both:
Johnson, Dr. Samuel: An eminent English essayist, poet, and lexicographer. (James Baldwin)
The eminent explorer had a bumper audience and a great reception, and was given an honorary degree by Convocation next day. (David Hunder-Blair)
Eminent domain laws generally allow for the confiscation of private property if taking it is judged to serve a larger public good. (New York Times)
Imminent describes something that's about to happen, and it's not always good. It can be positive, like a talented musician's imminent rise to stardom, but it's often bad, like a sick person's imminent death, or a city's imminent bankruptcy:
One official said that unless the city "hit the jackpot," bankruptcy was imminent. (New York Times)
Real Estate Alert reported last week that the deal was imminent. (Business Week)
At one point, some 750,000 Somalis had faced imminent starvation. (Scientific American)
To keep the two straight, remember that an eminent person is successful,like that rapper Eminem. Something imminentis going to happen in a minute.
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Anyone highly regarded or prominent is eminent. Eminent people are very successful at their jobs. If you’ve heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s probably because he’s an eminent astrophysicist. Continue reading...