- a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird, assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group.
- an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or sib considers itself closely related.
- a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group.
- anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol.
Origin of totem
Examples from the Web for totems
Their brandishing of totems, their busting of taboos is real world stuff, not symbolic.The Life and Art of Radical Provocateur—and Commune Leader—Otto Muehl
September 22, 2014
I recognize these totems all too well, because I have at one time or another embraced them myself.Can Great Literature Really Change Your Life?
January 5, 2014
Or are they relics, totems of a strange faith that demands our allegiance?Gun Fanatics Score Big Victory in North Carolina
September 4, 2013
Gone are the cheerful sham marriages held up as totems for the rest of us to emulate.The Year of Women Fighting Back
November 30, 2009
Had they held their corn feast—or can you say anything of the totems of the tribe?
"These men have their totems and their sign manuals," said the commissioner.Jack O' Judgment
Had they held their corn-feast—or can you say anything of the totems of the tribe?
Totems, in their developed form, are revered, but rarely if ever worshiped.Introduction to the History of Religions
Crawford Howell Toy
Here in the drawing are some Totems seen daily in our towns.Woodland Tales
- (in some societies, esp among North American Indians) an object, species of animal or plant, or natural phenomenon symbolizing a clan, family, etc, often having ritual associations
- a representation of such an object
Word Origin and History for totems
animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan, 1760, from Algonquian (probably Ojibwa) odoodeman "his sibling kin, his group or family," hence, "his family mark;" also attested in French c.1600 in form aoutem among the Micmacs or other Indians of Nova Scotia. Totem pole is 1808, in reference to west coast Canadian Indians.
An animal, plant, or other object in nature that has a special relationship to a person, family, or clan and serves as a sign for that person or group.