imminent, immanent

TaraSince there is only one letter of difference between them, imminent and immanent are easy to confuse. But they are not at all the same.

Both words are adjectives.

Imminent modifies something that’s about to happen:

The conference in Italy was imminent. This was to be her first trip to Europe, and she would be on the plane and on her way first thing in the morning.

Another use for imminent is to modify something that is threatening:

When the water reached his ankles, he realized that the boat was in imminent danger of sinking. He immediately got on the radio and called for help.

In contrast, immanent means indwelling, innate, inborn, inherent:

She believes that God, the Absolute, the Spirit Essence — whatever you choose to call it — is immanent in nature.

Another meaning of immanent is “widespread,” as below:

A longing for exorbitant wealth is immanent in the United States of America.

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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6 Responses to imminent, immanent

  1. Rogerscott says:

    I love this kind of instruction. Yet, I was under the impression that there was another
    meaning or maybe yet another spelling that sounds like ‘mnent’ that meant ‘exalted’ or
    highly regarded: as in: an mnent authority. Or is that ’emanent’? Then there is ’emanant’,
    flowing forth kinda. After that, say something about ‘transeunt’. Great web site.

  2. 123clear says:

    Hi, Roger. Thanks for the note.

    Yes, “eminent” means “standing out,” “prominent,” “conspicuous,” “famous.”

    I’m not finding either “emanant” or “transeunt” in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.


  3. Claudia says:

    I’m guessing Roger meant “emanate” and “transient” for his last requests.

    Found this googling after reading a podcast description “… on the immanency of our nuclear destruction”. Neither word is particularly cheering in that phrase.

  4. 123clear says:

    Hi, Claudia.

    Yes, I expect that you are right. Roger probably did mean “emanate” and “transient.”

    I ‘m with you! The prospect of imminent nuclear destruction isn’t the least bit cheering! Fortunately, we have the power to dismiss any fear of imminent nuclear destruction as transient, the stuff or nightmares, and nothing more. It’s much more fun and useful to know that peace, love, and joy are immanent within every human being.

  5. Kathy Alford says:

    I have used a definition of “close at hand” for immanent (one of God’s attributes) in the past, but now, I am unsure whether it applies. And it just may depend upon how you interpret it. Here are the other definitions and Scripture I use: “Present in day-to-day human existence; entering into personal relationships with people who inhabit His world

    Acts 17:27-28 God determined the times set for all men and the exact places where they should live, so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.

    Do you think I should include “close at hand” in the definitions?

    Thank you for your help.

    • 123clear says:

      Thank you for this intriguing question.

      Some of the official (dictionary) definitions of immanent are indwelling, innate, inborn, inherent, intrinsic, innate, ingrained, internal, and essential. As I understand it, this indicates that God is closer than “close at hand.” Rather, there is no separation between God and humans because God is right where we are, always.

      However, Acts 17:27-28 suggests some separation between God and humans.

      I guess this means that it’s up to you!


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