totem pole


: a pole or pillar carved and painted with a series of totemic symbols representing family lineage and often mythical or historical incidents and erected by Indian tribes of the northwest coast of North America
: an order of rank : hierarchy

Illustration of totem pole

Illustration of totem pole
  • totem pole 1

Examples of totem pole in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bottom-up experimentation, on the other hand, focuses on leading with the preferences and needs of the workers at the bottom of the totem pole. Jane Thier, Fortune, 20 Nov. 2023 Not to mention, more than 80 standing totem poles are scattered around Ketchikan, and the number continues to grow. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 June 2023 Between April 2016 and December 2021, Rodrigo and his family sold stone carvings and totem poles that were produced in the Philippines as authentic Alaska Native art at businesses in Ketchikan, according to a federal plea agreement. Riley Rogerson, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Sep. 2023 In one canvas, Michael Brophy’s Beaver Trade, a sky of muted blues, ashy purples and flamingo pinks is broken by a totem pole scarred with tendril-like footprints. Angelica Aboulhosn, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 That was my first time seeing acts like LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C., but Whodini was at the top of the totem pole; all the artists who would become revered and influence my process were supporting Whodini. Ryan Leas, Pitchfork, 22 Aug. 2023 And in the roadless hills south of Zdarsky’s airport stands the Lake Bonneville Guardian, a wooden totem pole painted with a glowering sea captain hugging a bear. Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Aug. 2023 The totem pole will then be returned to its original site in South Bentinck. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 19 Feb. 2023 That seems optimistic due to the fact that the majority of those working in the doc space, especially those on the low end of the totem pole, don’t have a union to protect them from a conglomerate like Netflix or Amazon to make sure or even fight for that to happen. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 1 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'totem pole.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of totem pole was in 1880

Dictionary Entries Near totem pole

Cite this Entry

“Totem pole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition

totem pole

: a pole carved and painted with symbols of totems and set up by Indian tribes of the northwest coast of North America

More from Merriam-Webster on totem pole

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