Skip to content

Etymology of Omni

“The Tao is empty but inexhaustible.
An eternal void filled with unending possibilities.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.”

Tao te Ching chapter 4

Meaning of Om and Ni

The prefix Omni derives from the Latin word Omnis or Omne which meant “All”. Omnis originated from Proto-Italic *opnis which originated from Proto-Indo-European *h₃ép-n-i-s which derives from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃ep which meant “To Work” or “To Create”. The Latin word Opus is a noun meaning “a Work” or “a Creation” and originates from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃ép-os which also derives from *h₃ep. Proto-Indo-European for those who aren’t familiar with it is the parent language from which most European, Iranian and Indian languages evolved including Latin, Greek, Germanic, Sanskrit and numerous others; and was spoken between 4500 BC to 2500 BC.

Fun Fact: An artist or writer’s most important or influential work is known as their Magnum Opus or “Great Work”. It is their work of art that is considered their greatest masterpiece!

The Meaning of Om

It is safe to assume that the Om in Omnis, Om in Omne, the Op in Opnis and Op in Opus all derive from the Proto-Indo-European word *h₃ep to create a morpheme or “meaningful word fragment” that translates as the act of creating, the one creating or the object of creation. With this understanding we now understand the meaning of Om.

Om means: Create, Created, Creator or Creation

The Meaning of Ni

The meaning of the morpheme “nis” which becomes “ni” in English is more difficult to identify as there are four possible ways to interpret it.

  1. The Proto-Indo-European N-Stem Genitive Singular suffix -nes could have been spelled as -nis. This would result in Omni translating as “of Creation”. This doesn’t appear to be the correct interpretation or very useful.
  2. The Privative or Negator *ne which translates as “Not” became the prefixes “In- / Un-” and was typically a prefix. If allowed to be a suffix then this would result in Omni translating as “Not Created”, “Uncreate” (entropy/chaos), “Destruction” or “Dying”. We’ll come back to this one.
  3. The Locatives *(h₁)ni- (“down”) derives from *h₁én (“in”) and the two of these form the root for words that mean “under”, “below”, “inner”, “inside” and “between”. This would result in Omni translating as “Inner/Lower Creation”. Not a likely translation but Ni is now lining up with all the qualities associated with Yin in Taoism! Down, inner, negative, destruction, death, chaos and entropy (which “uncreates”) are all associated with Yin!
  4. The Adjective Form of a Verb can be created with the suffix *-n-o-s spelled as -nis and is the last plausible interpretation for this morpheme. This would result in Omni translating as “Created”, which appears to be the most likely origin of the word “Omni” as a word meaning “All”.

With an open mind and appreciation for wordplay we can go one step further by allowing the negator prefix to also apply here as a suffix. This would result in Omni becoming a contranym, a word that is it’s own opposite. Omni would now mean both “Created” and “Not Created” and would truly represent “All” that there is whether it exists or not!

Ni means: Change Om from a Verb to an Adjective or negate it’s meaning resulting in Uncreate, Not Created, Destroyer or Destruction

The Union of Om and Ni

We now have two morphemes that can be turned into words or names for the Western equivalent of the Tao. Yang becomes the Light of Life as our Metaphysical Consciousness know as Om, the Ethereal Patterns of the Paternal Father God. Yin becomes the Darkness of Death as our Physical Universe known as Ni, the Material Matrix of the Maternal Mother Goddess.

Described in Three Ways:

Feminine Yin and Masculine Yang unite as the Tao creating the Child Yuan.

The God Om and Goddess Ni sing a Duet with Verses creating the Harmonic OmNiVerse.

Father Time and Mother Nature come together as One creating the All.

Fun with Morphemes

Below I have interpreted the same sentence three different ways based on the plausible interpretations of morphemes that evolved into Om and Ni; each referring to a different aspect of the Trinity of the Creator, Destroyer and Creation. This is not meant to be taken seriously except as an example of the Tower of Babel effect that I describe in my book Truthful Fiction.

Om Omni Om Ni Omni Ni
Creator of Creation
Creates inside Creation below. 

Om Omni Om Ni Omni Ni
Creation Destroyer
Creates no Destruction below.

Om Omni Om Ni Omni Ni
Creation of Creator
Creates in the Created below.