Namaste (Namas + te) is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the word namas and the second person dative pronoun in its enclitic form, te. The word namaḥ takes the sandhi form namas before the sound te.
The term namas is made of 2 words na meaning “not” and mamah meaning “i” or mine. It is therefore “not I”. This implies being open to the person being greeted and sometimes when “namaste” is said to God it refers to bowing or adoration. The subtle difference between bowing and openness is important. When greeting a peer or a stranger, “not I” accords respect to the other while maintaining self respect for oneself. When addressing God, “not I” can be interpreted as bowing. However, it is important to understand the distinction: “not I” is not bowing but according respect to the person being greeted.