totem pole


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

The two massive totem poles from British Columbia, installed in 1968, speak, in a deep, fiercely carved brown, of the museum’s interest in anthropology. Steve Johnson,, "With a skeleton and megaplanters, the Field Museum fleshes out its main hall," 26 June 2018 Social issues were very low on the totem pole if there at all, or they were relegated to a status that never got fixed. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why nonprofits should think more like tech companies," 14 Nov. 2018 But the team’s hierarchy has changed since those championship days, with Wilson sitting at the top of the totem pole. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "To make playoffs, Seahawks need Russell Wilson to be better than good," 7 Nov. 2018 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,, "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

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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tote road


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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


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
US, informal used to describe someone's position or level in a company or organization

totem pole


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

More from Merriam-Webster on totem pole

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with totem pole Encyclopedia article about totem pole

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to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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