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
Back when applications generally traveled as physical totems frozen onto discs, this was a true WTF moment.
All of Sitka, a beautiful town known for its totem-pole forest, is ready for Oprah’s arrival.
Barcelona's footballing totem Lionel Messi posted an emotional tribute to the thousands affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico earlier this month.
As with any shrine, this one has its share of totems and artifacts, including past players' jerseys, sneakers and video screens replaying glories.
Still, this shift to covering the persona of the president is symptomatic of the way a morally desiccated politics fixates on leaders as totems of group belonging and of moralistic self-congratulation.
The Gunners' failed bid for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar meant they were forced to keep their footballing totem for another season.
For the previous 5,000-odd years, cities had served as totems of human memory and achievement.
On opposite sides squat two concrete Shinto shrines strung with glistening totems and amulets that climbers have left behind as good luck talismans.
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
TOTEM Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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