from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A belief in totems or in kinship through common affiliation to a totem.
  • n. The practice of establishing affiliation through totems.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The belief that a person or group has a special mystical relationship to a totem

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The system of distinguishing families, clans, etc., in a tribe by the totem.
  • n. Superstitious regard for a totem; the worship of any real or imaginary object; nature worship.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The system of tribal subdivision denoted by totems; the use of totems, with all the social and religious observances connected with them; the constitution of society as marked by these observances.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. belief in the kinship of a group of people with a common totem


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

totem +‎ -ism


  • In the last thread, the SFnal thread, the Gilgamesh character is an anthropologist who specialises in totemism, and who gets drawn, by one of his students — the Enkidu figure — into a subculture of biotech fursuits and bodymods where people have animal alter egos … not unlike modern-day furries but a bit more hip, more posthuman.

    Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Hal Duncan

  • I apply the word totemism to the widely diffused savage institution which I have defined.

    Modern Mythology

  • One of the most widely found modes of showing respect to animals is known as totemism (see TOTEM AND TOTEMISM), but except in decadent forms there is but little positive worship; in Central Australia, however, the rites of the Wollunqua totem group are directed towards placating this mythical animal, and cannot be termed anything but religious ceremonies.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Part 1, Slice 1

  • They have one recorded instance of totemism, which is of some interest.

    The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India - Volume IV of IV Kumhar-Yemkala

  • This phenomenon, which is widely known as totemism, appears to be suggested by the prominence given to the wild boar on Celtic coins and ensigns, and by the place assigned on some inscriptions and bas-reliefs to the figure of a horned snake as well as by the effigies of other animals that have been discovered.

    Celtic Religion in Pre-Christian Times

  • Thus it is difficult to prove that the heraldry is the origin of totemism, which is just as likely, or more likely, to have been the origin of savage heraldic crests and quarterings.

    Modern Mythology

  • I think there are definite reasons for believing that once the cow became identified with the Mother-Goddess as the parent of mankind the first step was taken in the development of the curious system of ideas now known as "totemism".

    The Evolution of the Dragon

  • Thus the term 'totemism' may be used loosely to denote any combination of customs connected with the idea of an alliance between man and other things, and the alliance itself may exist in various degrees of intimacy.

    Introduction to the History of Religions Handbooks on the History of Religions, Volume IV

  • 'This idea of destiny, or, if I may be allowed the phrase, "totemism", however strange, is not confined to the savages; many instances might be adduced from history to prove how strong these impressions have been on minds above the vulgar and unlearned.

    Limited, Inc.

  • I bought a microscope and peered into tissues, pollen cells, diatoms, ditch ooze; and pitied my clever and very talented grandmother who died ignorant of the family secrets revealed by 'totemism', ignorant of 'parthenogenesis' which proved so conclusively the truth of her own firm conviction, that the faults she deplored in her son's children were all inherited directly from her daughter-in-law, whom she detested; ignorant of the fact that the sun which she regarded as a dazzling yellow fire was by bolometric measures shown to be in reality of a restful, and refreshing blue color.

    At the Mercy of Tiberius


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I have (for want of a better word) described the act of something becoming totemised as totemification - however, a search of the internet suggests that this is not a word that has ever really been used. Would be interested to know of a better term for the describing the action by which something become a focus of totemism.

    March 14, 2010