totem pole

noun

Definition of totem pole 

1 : 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

2 : 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

Or, for art that's equal parts craftsmanship and storytelling, visit the Totem Heritage Center — or just keep your eyes open for some of the many, many totem poles around town. Jenna Schnuer, Anchorage Daily News, "Kodiak and Southeast Alaska: Where coastal pleasures abound," 3 May 2018 Artist Brian Jungen's pieces, towering totem poles fashioned from golf bags and a traditional Native mask made of Nike Air Jordan's, reflects the colliding experience of modern Native American people. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Museum’s ‘Unsettled’ is a sensory exploration of the ever-changing ‘Greater West’," 11 May 2018 As our antagonists spar over their place on the totem pole of privilege and oppression, Emilie gets in a good zinger about how many theater companies are run by gay white men. Kerry Lengel, azcentral, "Review: Nearly Naked Theatre's 'The Submission' is how NOT to add to the diversity debate," 3 July 2018 Of course, there are shoppers who still won’t get within a totem pole’s length of a Hawaiian shirt, Trefethen says. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "Aloha to your father’s Hawaiian shirts," 28 June 2018 Meyers also notes that money mules are relatively low on the criminal totem pole. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Feds Bust Dozens of Email Scammers, but Your Inbox Still Isn’t Safe," 12 June 2018 But that one opinion can be just as wrong as that of the lowest person on the totem pole. David Murphy, Philly.com, "Some thoughts on Kawhi Leonard, consensus, and the Sixers front office on the eve of the NBA Draft | David Murphy," 20 June 2018 This business is such that actors are absolutely the lowest on the totem pole and quite often are treated like props. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, "My worst moment: 'Chicago P.D.'s' Amy Morton recalls the job that required her to dress as a sea nymph," 12 June 2018 Margaret thrills to the uncertainty of the moment—and to the idea of being pushed from the top of the totem pole. Julie Miller, HWD, "The Crown: Vanessa Kirby Takes Us Inside Princess Margaret’s “Sexual Awakening”," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'totem pole.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of totem pole

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near totem pole

totemist

totemistic

totemite

totem pole

to term

tote road

totes

Statistics for totem pole

Last Updated

4 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for totem pole

The first known use of totem pole was in 1880

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More Definitions for totem pole

totem pole

noun

English Language Learners Definition of totem pole

: a tall usually wooden pole that is carved and painted with symbols, figures, or masks which represent different Native American tribes

—used to describe someone's position or level in a company or organization

totem pole

noun

Kids Definition of totem pole

: a usually wooden pole or pillar carved and painted with totems and set up by American Indian tribes of the northwest coast of North America

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