low man on the totem pole

Idioms & Phrases

low man on the totem pole

Low in rank, least important person, as in I just joined the board so I'm low man on the totem pole. This slangy expression is thought to have been invented by the American comedian Fred Allen about 1940 and caught on despite its lack of application to a genuine totem pole.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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