- a pole or post carved and painted with totemic figures, erected by Indians of the northwest coast of North America, especially in front of their houses.
- a hierarchical system: the bureaucratic totem pole.
Origin of totem pole
First recorded in 1875–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for totem pole
It is the totem-pole, the Indian child will tell you with pride.Little Folks of North America
Mary Hazelton Wade
The idea of a totem-pole is something like a door-plate or a visiting card.The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
A totem-pole donated to the exposition by Yannate, a very old Thlinkit, was made by his own hands in honor of his mother.Alaska
I've got one decayed foreign title dangling to the totem-pole, and that's enough; that's got to satisfy the missus.Making Money
- a pole carved or painted with totemic figures set up by certain North American Indians, esp those of the NW Pacific coast, within a village as a tribal symbol or, sometimes, in memory of a dead person
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
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.