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

But girls are the lowest on Salem’s social totem pole. Terry Byrne,, "You think you know ‘The Crucible’?," 5 Sep. 2019 Skip to main content Finding a solid work-life balance can be tough and a new study shows that U.S. is on the lower end of the work-life balance totem pole. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Workers are putting in fewer hours. Is that a sign a recession is coming?," 5 Sep. 2019 The history of non-Native American kids carving totem poles didn’t sit well with local tribal communities. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "Boys Totem Town officially closed: An old facility falls to a new philosophy in treating young offenders," 4 Aug. 2019 Max, Thor and Lucas (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams) are three suburban sixth-graders who are fairly low on the social totem pole but don’t much care. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Good Boys Isn’t a Movie for Kids. But It Captures What It’s Like to Be One," 15 Aug. 2019 At this point, especially me, guys are fed up with being at the bottom of the totem pole in the NFL. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "State of the Broncos: Expectations low, but confidence high entering regular season," 8 Sep. 2019 That’s especially true at work, and goes double for employees sitting far down the executive totem pole. Scott Steinberg, Quartz at Work, "How to tell your team about a management decision you don’t agree with," 3 Sep. 2019 But a single totem pole remains, by the front entrance of the facility. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "Boys Totem Town officially closed: An old facility falls to a new philosophy in treating young offenders," 4 Aug. 2019 The third digit seems to be how high a chip sits on the totem pole in terms of speed. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "Intel’s first 10nm Ice Lake CPUs revealed: here’s your decoder ring," 1 Aug. 2019

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




totem pole

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tote road


Statistics for totem pole

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

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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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