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totem pole

noun

  1. 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.
  2. a hierarchical system:

    the bureaucratic totem pole.



totem pole

noun

  1. 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


totem pole

  1. Among some Native Americans , a pole on which totems are carved. The totem pole usually stands in front of a house or shelter.


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Notes

A totem pole is thought of figuratively as a symbol (see also symbol ) of a hierarchy: “Where does she stand on the totem pole?”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of totem pole1

First recorded in 1875–80

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Example Sentences

The project marks the first time House of Tears Carvers has made and moved such a large totem pole.

The totem poles often are said to be a “spiritual being” and are considered sacred symbols of a tribe, clan or a family tradition.

He would never deign me with any sort of acknowledgment, because I was too low on the totem pole.

Imagine how Vanessa feels, then, looking up from an even lower level on the sexual totem pole.

But as the U.S. killed all those leaders, the strikes continued and began working their way down the totem pole.

She was willing to talk to the most senior people or the lowest person on the totem pole.

As low man on the totem pole, I was relegated to the day shift.

Directly in front of the house a totem pole is placed, and near by a memorial pole is erected.

From one lip hung the inevitable toothpick which seemed to be the totem pole of these regional tribes.

The carved totem-pole monuments are the most striking of the objects displayed here.

The erection of a totem pole is made a grand affair, and is often talked of for a year or two beforehand.

We may outgrow our adoration of the Constitution or Private Property only to establish some new totem pole.

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