One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A natural object or animal that is believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and that is adopted by it as an emblem.
icon, god, image, likeness, fetish, statue, figure, figurine, doll, carvingView synonyms
- ‘Tribal groups avoid the flesh of animals that are their clan totems.’
- ‘Long ago, the world was ruled by two great animal totems.’
- ‘For centuries our ancestors have had animal totems.’
- ‘And so all the clans who have totems, those totems define certain territories.’
- ‘After that we turned our attention to animal myths, totems and characters, and I asked them to draw each of themselves as animals with which they identified.’
- ‘The meat of one's clan totem was traditionally avoided; even today animals representing totems are rarely eaten.’
- ‘As he turned around, he saw a pile of small, stone animal totems had appeared next to the book.’
- ‘Twenty or more clans with additional totems were added later.’
- ‘Hey, at least you people know how to find out about your totems or power animals.’
- ‘When people die they pass on their totems to young children, usually a son or grandson.’
- ‘Due to her early influence, my spirit guides have always been animal totems.’
- ‘But the truth is, the little girl was in no danger, for like the other members of her tribe, she was a child of an animal totem.’
- ‘They were given certain animal totems to feed the people, such as fish, turtle and every other creature that lives in the water.’
- ‘They make these animals their totems and are not allowed to hunt, eat, or even be around them.’
- ‘Is it a sign, is it a totem, that normal society has returned?’
- ‘It is strictly taboo for anyone to eat the meat from an animal that is his or her totem.’
- ‘Alienated from their surroundings, these youths are chilling totems of a society predicated on division.’
- ‘Premodern societies often had animal totems, and they saw animals and humans as intertwined through reincarnation.’
- ‘Each family has a totem and is grouped by totems (plants, birds, four-legged creatures) into a system of marriage alliances.’
- ‘If a family has a totem, it cannot eat that animal, which is considered a spiritual protector.’
Mid 18th century: from Ojibwa nindoodem ‘my totem’.
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