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Definition of "totem" []

  • An animal, plant, or natural object serving among certain tribal or traditional peoples as the emblem of a clan or family and sometimes revered as its founder, ancestor, or guardian. (noun)
  • A representation of such an object. (noun)
  • A social group having a common affiliation to such an object. (noun)
  • A venerated emblem or symbol: "grew up with the totems and taboos typical of an Irish Catholic kid in Boston” ( Connie Paige). (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "totem" in a sentence
  • "I add that, granting for the sake of argument that these traces may point to totemism in the remote past, the mouse, though originally a totem, '_need not have been an Aryan totem_' (p. 116)."
  • "Finally, in the theory that the clan totem is the natural development of the individual totem, the contention of some scholars that the term totem should be reserved to the clan totem is of little moment."
  • "Dr. Munro merely quotes this foolish use of the term totem by others."