totem was our Word of the Day on 06/07/2014. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of totem in a Sentence
Private jets are a totem of success among extremely wealthy people.
the bald eagle, that universally recognized totem of our country
Recent Examples of totem from the Web
Shamanic healer and intuitive, Colleen McCann, explains below what spirit animals are, and how they can be harnessed for help in life, whether through meditation or totem form.
But the Medicare-for-All slogan is a powerful totem for those who believe Democrats must abandon their attachment to private-sector involvement in health care and other key areas of public policy.
The plaque, which was inlaid into the floor of the pavilion, was once a part of a larger totem to Davis, but was reduced in size and stature after the downtown park was redeveloped last year.
In one, Dopey becomes a mutant totem pole, each of his faces bigger than the one below it.
Adopted by the Franklin Square Community Association in 2012, the park features totem poles with colorful flags overhanging the green space, which connects its two murals on either side — each decorated with larger-than-life sunflowers.
Many of the totem-like forms owe a certain something to one of his most important aesthetic influences — the tribal art of Oceania.
But there was so much more: the totem-pole ceremony; the death protocol; family crests.
These guys ain't played a game, always hurt, and at the bottom of the totem pole.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'totem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
totem Has Roots in an Algonquian Language
Totem comes to us from Ojibwa, an Algonquian language spoken by an American Indian people from the regions around Lake Superior. The most basic form of the word in Ojibwa is believed to be "ote," but 18th-century English speakers encountered it as "ototeman" ("his totem"), which became our word totem. In its most specific sense, "totem" refers to to an emblematic depiction of something (such as an animal, plant, or supernatural being) gives a family or tribe its name and that often serves as a reminder of its ancestry. The term is also used broadly for any thing or person having particular emblematic or symbolic importance. The related adjective "totemic" describes something that serves as a totem, that depicts totems ("totemic basketry," for example), or that has the nature of a totem.
Origin and Etymology of totem
First Known Use: circa 1776See Words from the same year
TOTEM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of totem for English Language Learners
: something (such as an animal or plant) that is the symbol for a family, tribe, etc., especially among Native Americans
: a usually carved or painted figure that represents such a symbol
: a person or thing that represents an idea
TOTEM Defined for Kids
Definition of totem for Students
Seen and Heard
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