Impending vs. pending

Something that is pending is awaiting conclusion, confirmation, or fulfillment—for example, the birth of a child, the results of a test, or a just-submitted order from an online store. Something that is impending is about to occur or threatening to happen. The word can have sinister connotations and tends to apply to negative or threatening things.

Examples

Pending

If pending state legislation becomes law, a herd of deer that are used to being fed could have to fend for themselves. [NJ.com]

Monday, it said it would put its participation on hold pending greater clarity over which country was commanding the force. [Wall Street Journal (article now offline)]

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year, pending approvals. [Financial Times]

Impending

Charities are worried about an impending catastrophe as they struggle to cope with soaring numbers of people seeking help . [Mirror]

NATO’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia to halt an impending humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo started out in much the same way. [Toronto Star]

The earthquake, tsunami and impending threat of melt-down at nuclear plants have catapulted Japan to the top of prophecy web sites. [USA Today]

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