Which Word Wednesday: Eminent, Immanent, and Imminent

By October 3, 2012 language No Comments

Here’s a special treat for your Which Word Wednesday enjoyment—brace yourselves . . . because today we have a word trio instead of a word pair. Yes, do your happy dance. This is like a sale—you get three words for the price of two. Or 33% off. Or something. (You can thank dear friend Angel for the extra helping—this is her WWW submission.)

Let’s look at the definitions in The Oxford American Dictionary:

eminent :: adjective
(of a person) famous and respected within a particular sphere or profession

immanent :: adjective
existing or operating within; inherent; (of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe

imminent :: adjective
about to happen

OK. All adjectives. All sound similar. (Especially if you say them real fast, one after another.) Different words, yes; interchangeable, no. So how can we remember when to use the correct word for the context?

Let’s get the easy one out of the way, the one that starts with E.

Use eminent when describing someone who is esteemed. (Keep the Es together.)

See? Vowels life and death important.

That leaves us with two I words. Only the middle vowel distinguishes the two—and there we find our memory hooks:

The one with the A in the middle describes the Almighty One. (Keep the As together.)

The one with the I in the middle describes situations that are impending. (Keep the Is together.)

I also found this tip for imminent: It sounds like “in a minute,” which is what the word describes.

What’s my WWW verdict? Forget your Ps and Qs—mind your Es, As, and Is.

What’s your verdict? Do these three words confuse you? Do you have any memory hooks that help you? Do share in the comments.


Check out previous Which Word Wednesday verdicts here.

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