- 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 totem
Contemporary Examples of totem
He would never deign me with any sort of acknowledgment, because I was too low on the totem pole.Chloe Sevigny on ‘The Cosmopolitans,’ New York’s Frat Boy Takeover, and ‘Asshole’ Michael Alig
August 24, 2014
That is something I look at as a totem of what movies used to be.The Director Isn’t Done Yet: An Interview With Steven Soderbergh
August 1, 2014
But as the U.S. killed all those leaders, the strikes continued and began working their way down the totem pole.Everything You Need to Know About Drones
February 7, 2013
“Totem” is by a very young Singaporean artist named Chun Kai Feng, now having his first solo show at Fost Gallery in Singapore.A Totem to Public Housing
January 23, 2013
She was willing to talk to the most senior people or the lowest person on the totem pole.Susan Rice’s Personality 'Disorder'
December 12, 2012
Historical Examples of totem
"'The totem will not let the redmen do wrong,'" he quoted mentally.
The spirits that come from the Silver Waters are not the spirits that the totem called.
Pale-face—he sleep, but he wake soon when Red Fox make sign of totem.
The totem may also be a vegetable, in which case no member of the stock will gather or eat it.History of Religion
He stroked his hand over the totem mark on the cant dog handle.Joan of Arc of the North Woods
- (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 for totem
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.
see low man on the totem pole.