Definition of totem in English:


Translate totem into Spanish


  • 1A natural object or animal that is believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and that is adopted by it as an emblem.

    ‘The meat of one's clan totem was traditionally avoided; even today animals representing totems are rarely eaten.’
    • ‘They make these animals their totems and are not allowed to hunt, eat, or even be around them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tribal groups avoid the flesh of animals that are their clan totems.’
    • ‘Due to her early influence, my spirit guides have always been animal totems.’
    • ‘And so all the clans who have totems, those totems define certain territories.’
    • ‘If a family has a totem, it cannot eat that animal, which is considered a spiritual protector.’
    • ‘It is strictly taboo for anyone to eat the meat from an animal that is his or her totem.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For centuries our ancestors have had animal totems.’
    • ‘They were given certain animal totems to feed the people, such as fish, turtle and every other creature that lives in the water.’
    • ‘Long ago, the world was ruled by two great animal totems.’
    • ‘Alienated from their surroundings, these youths are chilling totems of a society predicated on division.’
    • ‘As he turned around, he saw a pile of small, stone animal totems had appeared next to the book.’
    • ‘Hey, at least you people know how to find out about your totems or power animals.’
    • ‘Is it a sign, is it a totem, that normal society has returned?’
    • ‘Twenty or more clans with additional totems were added later.’
    • ‘When people die they pass on their totems to young children, usually a son or grandson.’
    icon, god, image, likeness, fetish, totem, statue, figure, figurine, doll, carving
    1. 1.1A person or thing regarded as being symbolic or representative of a particular quality or concept.
      ‘the fast food chains have become totems of Western economic development’
      • ‘the newspaper is seen as a totem of media independence and integrity’
      • ‘The building was long a revered totem of the publishing business.’
      • ‘He was the inventor of the pink plastic flamingo, that flagrant totem of suburban satisfaction.’
      • ‘I notice that she does not actually need or use the lemons throughout lunch, but they remain at her elbow, a citrussy totem of her power.’
      • ‘He did not live to see his six albums turn into a totem of arrested teenage development.’
      • ‘The beach was a festival of umbrellas, towels, balls, radios, all the totems of a carefree, lazy summer.’
      • ‘He was a national totem of strength and a symbol of identity.’
      • ‘Bigger and more beautiful TV screens are the totems of our living room.’
      • ‘He's a totem for anger.’
      • ‘The music becomes a totem for memory, something to cling to.’
      • ‘The sculpture become a totem for artistic freedom.’



/ˈtōdəm/ /ˈtoʊdəm/


Late18th century from Ojibwa nindoodem ‘my totem’.