The definition of prominent and VIP are same: an important person

So if I say: Mai is a prominent guy of Australia


Mai is a V.I.P. of Australia.

Isn't the meaning is the same?


Definition of VIP by Dictionary.com:

very important person.

Definition of prominent by Dictionary.com:

leading, important, or well-known:

3 Answers 3


Usually, VIP is used to indicate that the person should be given special privileges. It may be because they're famous (which would make them prominent), but it could also be just because they're rich and expected to spend more money. For instance, a gentleman's club or casino might have a VIP Room, where rich patrons can have privacy.

There's quite a bit of overlap, but prominent describes the person's position in society, while VIP refers to how they're treated by specific groups or in certain situations. At a wedding, the bride and groom, as well as their families, are VIPs; the next day, they're just ordinary people.

  • At a wedding, the bride and groom, as well as their families are VIPs;... They can also be prominent isn't it? At a wedding, the bride and groom, as well as their families are prominent;...
    – XPMai
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 13:12
  • @XPMai- THIS is a really good answer!
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:02
  • True, they're also prominent, since they're sitting at the head table and the bride is probably wearing a white gown that stands out among the rest. But they'll also be VIPs during preparation, when there aren't any other guests to compare them to. And their honeymoon resort might treat them as VIPs because they're staying in the honeymoon suite, but no one else would recognize them as prominent.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 16:44

They can be used similarly, but "prominent" has a broader scope.

Prominent usually refers to a very public figure (and often uses the word "figure"):

"Mai is a prominent person/figure in Australia."

V.I.P. is usually used within an organization, or a more localized setting:

"Mai is a V.I.P. among bankers in Sydney."

  • 'Prominent' by definition is something which sticks out e.g. he has a prominent ear lobe. If this chap Mai is so 'prominent' does he not have a surname? Or is Mai his surname? Australia is an Angolspheric country which observes the usual convention of Christian and surnames. But using terms like VIP and 'prominent' always strikes me as a lazy way of not bothering to find out what the person actually does.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 7:52
  • @WS2 - Lazy... or there are allegations which if mentioned could find one being fitted for cement galoshes.
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 12:55
  • There is clearly something in the profundity of your comment which escapes me!
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 14:39
  • Hmm... Did you see "The Godfather..?"
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 14:58
  • So long ago I've forgotten. But, seriously, you wouldn't expect someone to announce 'a prominent American will be arriving tonight', would you? Wouldn't you expect a bit more detail? Why should it be any different with an Australian?
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 15:15

VIP is an acronym for very important person.


A very important person:

The phrase does not indicate to whom or for what reason the person is important.

The definition for prominent contains the word important too:


  1. Important; famous:

So they share a semantic field.

The etymology of prominent suggests why important people tend to be given prominent positions: mentally, physically, and organizationally.

mid-15c., "projecting, jutting out,"

from Latin prominentem (nominative prominens) "prominent," present participle of prominere "jut or stand out, be prominent, overhang,"

from pro- "before, forward" (see pro-) + minere "to project,"

from minae "projections, threats" (see menace (n.)).

Meaning "conspicuous" is from 1759;

that of "notable, leading" is from 1849.

Mentally, the phrase: He puts his pants on one leg at a time is an accommodation for the mental prominence we tend to give important people. Their great accomplishments demonstrate superior power, and that power tends to intimidate, as the threat connotation of the etymology suggests. We try to bring them down a notch in our minds, but the mental intimidation of their prominence remains.

Physically, they sit at the head table at banquets, and abide on the top floor of the corporate headquarters as demonstrations of their importance.

Organizationally they sit at the top of the chart. Every one within the organization is expected to defer to the prominent agenda of the VIPs, who also become the prominent face and persona to everyone outside the organization.

All of that prominence is projected because a person has done something that makes him a very important person in the organization. By extension of the organization's importance, she becomes a very important person in a broader context.

Very important people tend to be very prominent people.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.