namaste

[ nuhm-uh-stey ]
/ ˈnʌm əˌsteɪ /

noun

a conventional Hindu expression on meeting or parting, used by the speaker usually while holding the palms together vertically in front of the bosom.

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Origin of namaste

1945–50; < Sanskrit: hail, literally, (a) bow to thee
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does namaste mean?

Namaste is a traditional Hindu greeting said with a hand gesture in which the palms are pressed together at the chest or head, accompanied by a slight bow or arm raise. In the West, it is commonly associated with yoga, and uses of namaste in this context is sometimes accused of being a form of cultural appropriation.

Where does namaste come from?

Namaste comes from Sanskrit, and literally means “I bow to you,” said with the accompanying pose at both greeting and parting. Forms of the word and depictions of the pose can be found in ancient Indian art and literature.

Evidence for namaste in English comes in the 1940s, around the time when many Westerners were discovering more about Indian culture surrounding the country’s new independence after being colonized by the U.K.

Related to namaste is namaskar, which also refers to the act of greeting someone with namaste.

How is namaste used in real life?

In Hindu communities in India and abroad, namaste is issued, in word and pose, as a respectful way of saying hello. An example is the 2018 Bollywood film Namaste England, or “Hello England.”

In the West, however, namaste has become a shorthand for all things yoga, evoking senses of peace, divinity, or balance in one’s practice. It’s frequently used as a kind of blessing—when not, more problematically, being more casually branded on yoga products.

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for namaste

British Dictionary definitions for namaste

namaste
/ (ˌnʌməsˈteɪ) /

interjection

a salutation used in India

Word Origin for namaste

C21: via Hindi from Sanskrit, from namas salutation, bow + te to you
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012