Friday, May 27, 2011

Beware: A Tip Is Imminent

So my Friday tip for this week is about three very similar-looking words:

imminent, eminent, and immanent

Here's the low-down and how to remember which is which.

"Imminent" is something that's impending (use that for those mnemonic lovers out there). "The imminent storm will knock out the talk radio station tower." (Depending on which talk radio station, such storm destruction would be eminent as well.)

"Eminent" is something or someone prominent, well-known, famous, conspicuous. "John Williams is eminent among twentieth-century composers and musicians." (Can you tell I'm a fan of his eminence?)

"Immanent" is the rarest of the three and so is not used in everyday speech or writing (unless someone is getting creative in trying to spell one of the other two). It is akin to the word "inherent," as something indwelling or innate, and it also connotes a sense of being limited to one's experience in a Transcendentalist sort of way. "Her immanent beauty had not an ounce of artifice or addendum. It came from the original source of light."

So there it is. The imminent tip of the day, in all its eminence and immanent Merriam-Websterness.

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