Imminent Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

This guide will show you the meaning of imminent, describe its origin, and teach you how to use it with examples, synonyms, and more.

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We hear some words in a negative context so often that we may not realize that they have a more neutral meaning. Whether a word has a negative connotation or not, it’s often a good idea to test your knowledge of what a word truly means by examining the definitions, studying its origin, and learning more about how we use the word. So, do you think you know the word imminent?

What Is the Meaning of Imminent?

According to most dictionaries, the word imminent is an adjective. An adjective is a word that is used to describe place, people, objects, or ideas. These descriptive words can paint a better picture of what an author or speaker is trying to say. Let’s look at imminent as an adjective.

As an Adjective

Imminent has two meanings. First, imminent can describe when something is likely to occur at any moment. Similar to the definition of impending. For example:

  • His death is imminent.

Secondly, the term imminent can describe something that is projecting, hanging overhead, or leaning forward. Another way to say the meaning of the word imminent would be to say that something is near or at hand. For example:

  • The editor was concerned the article would be overshadowed by the imminent release of a competitor’s pieces.

Imminent or im-mi-nent is pronounced “im-uh-nuhnt”. Beyond its definition, it’s important to look at the history of a word. Let’s look at the etymology of the word imminent.

What Is the Origin of Imminent?

Etymology provides a word’s history. You can trace a word’s roots back through time the same way you can a family tree. In the same way that some traits are passed down through families, some meanings are passed down as words transition over time.

Imminent is a Middle English word with Indo-European roots that dates back to around 1520 to 1530. It comes from the Latin imminent. Latin imminent is a stem of imminēns and the present participle of imminēre. The word meant “to overhang.” 

The Latin imminēre comes from mineo and is also related to minae (English menace) and mons (English mount). The Latin word roots are in– meaning “upon, towards” and minere meaning “to project.” It’s interesting that over time the meaning has remained relatively unchanged.

The word can be compared to the word eminent. It is sometimes confused with immanent.

How Do We Use the Word Imminent?

Imminent is a commonly used word, and we use it in one of two ways. Typically, imminent signals a bad or dangerous event that is forthcoming, but it can also be used to describe an event that is inevitably going to happen. 

Incoming Danger

Imminent is often used to denote a negative connotation. It has an implication of menace. It can be seen as an ominous warning like the hue of a threatening sky. For example, the word can be used to imply impending danger as in:

  • Imminent catastrophe
  • Imminent danger of serious physical harm

Forthcoming Events

Imminent can also be used to describe incoming events. They are typically fast approaching. These events are typically unavoidable as in:

  • Imminent publication of a massive series of stories
  • Imminent arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Imminent decisions must be made

However the word imminent is used, the word conveys a sense of inevitability. The word typically doesn’t mean that the event will necessarily last a long time. When an event is unchangeable, anticipation can build. Perhaps that’s why imminent events are seen as looming in the future and can feel scary. 

Like an explosion or even a tornado, the buildup can last longer than the event itself.  

What Are Synonyms for the Word Imminent?

Synonyms have the same meaning. Knowing a variety of words that have the same meaning can add depth and dimension to your speech or writing. Here are a few synonyms for the word imminent:

  • Impending
  • Close
  • Near
  • Approaching
  • Coming
  • Menacing
  • Expected
  • Anticipated
  • Looming
  • Brewing
  • Threatening
  • Forthcoming

What Are Antonyms for the Word Imminent?

Antonyms are words with the opposite meaning of a word. It’s helpful to have a reference when you only know the word that means the opposite of what you want to say. Here are antonyms for the word imminent:

  • Remote
  • Avoidable
  • Distant
  • Escapable
  • Never
  • Later
  • Doubtful
  • Far
  • Future
  • Unlikely

Examples Sentences With the Word Imminent 

Example sentences are a great way to see how a word is commonly used and give further context when trying to understand its definition. Here are example sentences for the word imminent:

  • The storm’s arrival is imminent.
  • We were in imminent danger.
  • After a long day like that, she knew her toddler’s tantrum was imminent.
  • He appeared to be an imminent threat, so we proceeded with caution.
  • Arrests were imminent after the insurrection.
  • During the social upheaval, the alleged rioters were seen as an imminent threat.
  • The tornado was a sign of imminent disaster.
  • The Book of Revelations urges that the End Times are imminent and retribution must be made.

The Last Word

In conclusion, a word can have several meanings or an understood meaning from the context clues from frequent use. Learning more about the words we use can help broaden our understanding of language, and we can find ways to use new words more frequently in our everyday speech.

Think about how you have been using the word imminent. Have you been using it correctly? Does it always have a negative connotation? Perhaps with a more thorough understanding of the word’s meaning, you can incorporate imminent into your daily vocabulary in other ways. Broadening your use is imminent.


  1. Imminent Definition & Meaning | 
  2. Introduction to Latin | University of Texas
  3. Register and Charge: Using Synonym Maps to Explore Connotation | Kennesaw