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Meaning of totem pole

to'tem pole"

Pronunciation: [key]
  1. a pole or post carved and painted with totemic figures, erected by Indians of the northwest coast of North America, esp. in front of their houses.
  2. a hierarchical system: the bureaucratic totem pole.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.