early 15c., "standing or rising above other places; exceeding other things in quality or degree;" from Old French éminent "prominent" (13c.) or directly from Latin eminentem (nominative eminens) "standing out, projecting, prominent, high," figuratively "distinguished, distinctive," present participle of eminere "stand out, project; be prominent, be conspicuous," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + -minere, which is related to mons "hill" (from PIE root *men- (2) "to project"). From 1610s, of persons, "distinguished in character or attainments." Related: Eminently.
updated on September 26, 2018