Friday, January 21, 2011


Totemic \toh-TEM-ik\ , adjective;
1. Pertaining to an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or group considers itself closely related
2. Relating to a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group

Totem, with the meaning "animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan", dates to about 1760 (in English) and comes from an Algonquian language, probably Ojibwa. The Native American word is odoodeman, meaning "his sibling kin, his group or family", hence "his family mark". It is attested in French from around 1600 as aoutem from the Micmacs or other natives from around Nova Scotia. The word-initial [t] is explained by some as the final letter (sound) of a preceding posessive pronoun. This would be analogous to 'her home' being adopted into a foreign language as 'rome'.
Totem pole is attested in 1808 in reference to west coast Canadian Indians. Totemic is attested to 1846.

Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Friday, January 21
Etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary and/or

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