Word of the Day

Thursday, March 20, 2014

totem

\TOH-tuhm\ , noun;
1.
a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird, assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group.
2.
an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or sib considers itself closely related.
3.
a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group.
4.
anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol.
Quotes:
Many's the savage I've run into who sees his totem in dreams or visions.
-- Philip José Farmer, The Dark Design, 1977
Grandma refused to interpret the dreams. Padlock asked her fiancé to have a go at it. He based his interpretation on totemic symbols. Padlock belonged to the elephant totem.
-- Moses Isegawa, Abyssinian Chronicles, 1998
Origin:
This Americanism came to English in the mid-1700s from Ojibwa.
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