Etymology
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totem (n.)

animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan, 1760, from Algonquian (probably Ojibwa) -doodem, in odoodeman "his sibling kin, his group or family," hence, "his family mark;" also attested in French c. 1600 in form aoutem among the Micmacs or other Indians of Nova Scotia. Totem pole is 1808, in reference to west coast Canadian Indians.

updated on February 12, 2014

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Definitions of totem from WordNet

totem (n.)
a clan or tribe identified by their kinship to a common totemic object;
totem (n.)
emblem consisting of an object such as an animal or plant; serves as the symbol of a family or clan (especially among American Indians);
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.