1590s, "projection," from obsolete French prominence (16c.), from Latin prominentia "a jutting out," abstract noun from prominere "jut or stand out, be prominent, overhang," from pro "before, forward" (see pro-) + -minere "project, jut out," which is related to mons "hill" (from PIE root *men-(2) "to project"). Meaning "distinction, conspicuousness" is attested by 1827. As a type of solar phenomenon, from 1862.
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