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[toh-tuh-miz-uh m] /ˈtoʊ təˌmɪz əm/
the practice of having totems.
the system of tribal division according to totems.
Origin of totemism
An Americanism dating back to 1785-95; totem + -ism
Related forms
totemistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for totemism


the belief in kinship of groups or individuals having a common totem
the rituals, taboos, and other practices associated with such a belief
Derived Forms
totemist, noun
totemistic, adjective
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
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totemism in Culture
totemism [(toh-tuh-miz-uhm)]

The belief that people are descended from animals, plants, and other natural objects. Symbols of these natural ancestors, known as totems, are often associated with clans (groups of families tracing common descent). By representing desirable individual qualities (such as the swiftness of a deer) and helping to explain the mythical origin of the clan, totems reinforce clan identity and solidarity.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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