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totemism

[toh-tuh-miz-uh m] /ˈtoʊ təˌmɪz əm/
noun
1.
the practice of having totems.
2.
the system of tribal division according to totems.
Origin
1785-1795
1785-95, Americanism; totem + -ism
Related forms
totemistic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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totemistic in Culture
totemism [(toh-tuh-miz-uhm)]

The belief that people are descended from animals, plants, and other natural objects. Symbols of these natural ancestors, known as totems, are often associated with clans (groups of families tracing common descent). By representing desirable individual qualities (such as the swiftness of a deer) and helping to explain the mythical origin of the clan, totems reinforce clan identity and solidarity.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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