Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A ban or inhibition resulting from social custom or emotional aversion.
  • noun A prohibition, especially in Polynesia and other South Pacific islands, excluding something from use, approach, or mention because of its sacred and inviolable nature.
  • noun An object, word, or act protected by such a prohibition.
  • adjective Excluded or forbidden from use, approach, or mention.
  • transitive verb To exclude from use, approach, or mention; place under taboo.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Among the Polynesians and other races of the South Pacific, separated or set apart either as forbidden or as sacred; placed under ban or prohibition; consecrated either to exclusion or avoidance or to special use, regard, or service; hence, in English use, forbidden; interdicted.
  • noun Among the Polynesians and other races of the South Pacific, a system, practice, or act whereby persons, things, places, actions, or words are or may be placed under a ban, curse, or prohibition, or set apart as sacred or privileged in some specific manner, usually with very severe penalties for infraction.
  • noun Hence A prohibitory or restraining injunction or demonstration; restraint or exclusion, as from social intercourse or from use, imposed by some controlling influence; ban; prohibition; ostracism: as, to put a person or a thing under taboo. See the verb.
  • To put under taboo; disallow, or forbid the use of; interdict approach to, or contact or intercourse with; hence, to ban, exclude, or ostracize by personal authority or social influence: as, to taboo the use of tobacco; a tabooed person or subject (one not to be mentioned or discussed).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To put under taboo; to forbid, or to forbid the use of; to interdict approach to, or use of.
  • adjective Set apart or sacred by religious custom among certain races of Polynesia, New Zealand, etc., and forbidden to certain persons or uses; hence, prohibited under severe penalties; interdicted.
  • noun A total prohibition of intercourse with, use of, or approach to, a given person or thing under pain of death, -- an interdict of religious origin and authority, formerly common in the islands of Polynesia; interdiction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An inhibition or ban that results from social custom or emotional aversion.
  • noun Something which may not be used, approached or mentioned because it is sacred.
  • adjective Excluded or forbidden from use, approach or mention.
  • verb To mark as taboo.
  • verb To ban.
  • verb To avoid.

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

  • verb declare as sacred and forbidden
  • adjective forbidden to profane use especially in South Pacific islands
  • noun a prejudice (especially in Polynesia and other South Pacific islands) that prohibits the use or mention of something because of its sacred nature
  • noun an inhibition or ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
  • adjective excluded from use or mention

Etymologies

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

[Tongan tabu, under prohibition, from Proto-Polynesian *tapu.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Tongan tapu ("prohibited"). The word entered English around 1777. Ultimately from Proto-Polynesian *tapu.

Examples

  • By far, the most important victory for breaking the word taboo comes in Cohen v.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Local News

  • In an article in the Daily Telegraph, he describes the public reaction to his remarks as "hysterical", and says that a breach in what he calls the taboo on discussing race is "punished by ostracism and worse … the witch finders already have their sights on me".

    David Starkey defends Newsnight comment

  • He says the Holocaust was being used to legitimise the suffering of other peoples and he wanted to break what he called a taboo on discussing it.

    Neturei Karta Hasidim Hangin’ With Ahmadinejad | Jewschool

  • In short, those negative precepts which we call taboo are just as vain and futile as those positive precepts which we call sorcery.

    Chapter 3. Sympathetic Magic. § 2. Homoeopathic or Imitative Magic

  • In short, those negative precepts which we call taboo are just as vain and futile as those positive precepts which we call sorcery.

    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

  • In short, those negative precepts which we call taboo are just as vain and futile as those positive precepts which we call sorcery.

    The Golden Bough

  • Thai government distanced itself Wednesday from remarks in the Minister Kasit Piromya about a need for a more open discussion of what he called the taboo subject of the role of the monarchy in

    WN.com - Photown News

  • Thai government distanced itself Wednesday from remarks in the Minister Kasit Piromya about a need for a more open discussion of what he called the taboo subject of the role of the monarchy in

    WN.com - Photown News

  • Thai government distanced itself Wednesday from remarks in the Minister Kasit Piromya about a need for a more open discussion of what he called the taboo subject of the role of the monarchy in

    WN.com - Photown News

  • Thai government distanced itself Wednesday from remarks in the Minister Kasit Piromya about a need for a more open discussion of what he called the taboo subject of the role of the monarchy in

    WN.com - Photown News

Comments

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  • It's taboo to eat pork in some religions.

    May 20, 2009

  • forbidden from use

    May 21, 2009