totem pole

noun
|Updated on: 24 Jul 2018

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

Recent Examples of totem pole from the Web

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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TOTEM POLE Defined for English Language Learners

totem pole

Definition of totem pole for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

totem pole

noun

Definition of totem pole for Students

: 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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