Impends vs impinge

Impends and impinge are two words that are spelled and pronounced in a similar fashion, but have very different meanings. They are often confused, especially in spoken language. We will examine the definitions of the words impends and impinge, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Impends is the present tense of the verb impend, which means to be about to happen. Often, impends is used in reference to something ominous, but not always. Impends is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. The word impends is derived from the Latin word impendere, which means to be imminent or to hang over. Related words are impend, impended, impending. 

Impinge means to encroach on someone or something, to trespass, to effect someone or something, especially in a negative manner. Impinge is also an intransitive verb, derived from the Latin word impingere which means to strike against or to drive into. Related words are impinges, impinged, impinging.


The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. (The New Yorker)

And referring to the ‘calamity of India’, he said: “I fear I must express my forebodings, that calamity impends upon India.“ (The Yorkshire Evening Post)

Impartiality aside, “Lady Justice” is blind — meaning she can never “see” everything nor “weigh” all relevant factors in her earthly scales: those distal precursors, stressors and repercussions that impinge upon human psyche — impacting psychological states, judgment and behavior. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

It added: “The high commissioner is informed that Pakistan, in line with the UN Charter, rejects actions and advertisements with malicious content that impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (The Express Tribune)

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