taboo

adjective
ta·​boo | \ tə-ˈbü How to pronounce taboo (audio) , ta- \
variants: or less commonly tabu

Definition of taboo

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : banned on grounds of morality or taste the subject is taboo
b : banned as constituting a risk the area beyond is taboo, still alive with explosives— Robert Leckie
2 : forbidden to profane use or contact because of what are held to be dangerous supernatural powers

taboo

noun
variants: or less commonly tabu
plural taboos also tabus

Definition of taboo (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure … they may have developed a taboo against eating fish.— Jared Diamond
b : something that is not acceptable to say, mention, or do : something that is taboo … the tacticians in a conservative Republican Administration now deem membership in the club a taboo. — Peter J. Boyer
2 : a prohibition against touching, saying, or doing something for fear of immediate harm from a supernatural force
3 : belief in taboos

taboo

verb
variants: or less commonly tabu
tabooed also tabued; tabooing also tabuing; taboos also tabus

Definition of taboo (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to set apart as taboo especially by marking with a ritualistic symbol
2 : to avoid or ban as taboo

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Examples of taboo in a Sentence

Adjective Sex is a taboo subject for many people. In this company, dating a coworker is considered taboo. Noun religious taboos against drinking alcohol Marrying a close relative is a taboo in many cultures.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ferreira says she was drawn to how the comedy worked to normalize a taboo topic. Washington Post, "How ‘Unpregnant,’ a movie about getting an abortion, puts a twist on the road trip comedy," 12 Sep. 2020 The play originally debuted in 1968 and became a marvel for depicting gay relationships at a time when homosexuality was still taboo. Nick Romano, EW.com, "The Boys in the Band trailer gets the Broadway band back together for Netflix film," 2 Sep. 2020 But what happens when a sport is asked to step out of its comfort zone and proactively dive into a taboo subject? Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Time for the NHL to step out of its racial bubble before they risking losing a generation (or two) of fans," 29 Aug. 2020 Photography at Berghain is, in normal times, strictly taboo (bartenders have been known to stomp on smartphones and blacklist anyone attempting to sneak a selfie). Diana Hubbell, Condé Nast Traveler, "Instead of All-Night Techno, Berlin’s Clubs Are Hosting Immersive Art Shows," 25 Aug. 2020 That was reason enough to be angry, but since the expression of anger was taboo for girls, my anger bore frustration, and from frustration, tears. Maureen Stanton, Longreads, "Through a Glass, Tearfully," 10 Aug. 2020 Black women's natural hair has always been taboo in the workplace. Shelby Stewart, Houston Chronicle, "Study shows Black women with natural hair less likely to get jobs, Twitter reacts," 13 Aug. 2020 During the course of the Trump administration, things that were once taboo have become normalized. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Trump, TikTok and a dangerous precedent for democracy," 8 Aug. 2020 Many early 20th-century Americans may have viewed bidets as symbols of French indecency, linking them to taboo topics like menstruation and prostitution, Maria Teresa Hart wrote in the Atlantic in 2018. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Bottom Line About Bidets," 20 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When considering attending a celebration, experts recommend something previously considered taboo: asking for lots of details. Claire Ballentine, Bloomberg.com, "How to Attend a Wedding (or Not) During a Pandemic," 10 Sep. 2020 Similar to Ganis, Reino suggests there will be other potential programs in tangential areas of sports marketing, such as gambling and online betting — once taboo in NFL circles. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, "NFL faces tough times for 2020, then bright economic outlook," 1 Sep. 2020 More controversially, at a rally at Bangkok’s Thammasat University on August 10th, some agitators openly called for reform of the monarchy, still a strict taboo. The Economist, "Street cred Audacious student protests are rocking Bangkok," 20 Aug. 2020 On Amazon Prime's Pan y Circo, Luna breaks bread with people from all walks of life to discuss taboo topics affecting contemporary societies. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Diego Luna has no regrets playing a narco on TV, says prohibition politics are more harmful," 13 Aug. 2020 Business)A Chinese advertisement for Cartier has reignited discussion about the country's taboo around LGBTQ rights. Steven Jiang, CNN, "Romantic Cartier ad featuring two men stirs censorship debate in China," 12 Aug. 2020 The policy is considered a bold move in tackling an age-old taboo in India, where 71 percent of young women remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle, according to UNICEF. Geneva Abdul, New York Times, "Company’s Paid Leave for Periods Takes On a Workplace Taboo," 11 Aug. 2020 The policy is considered a bold move in tackling an age-old taboo in India, where 71 percent of young women remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle, according to UNICEF. Geneva Abdul, BostonGlobe.com, "Company’s paid leave for periods takes on a workplace taboo," 11 Aug. 2020 Their concern here was hardly disinterested: More important than anything else for them was that Trump was breaking the taboo within the Republican Party that forbade calling the Iraq War a gross error. Samuel Moyn, The New Republic, "The Never Trumpers Have Already Won," 4 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Create an open dialogue and refuse to let anything be taboo between you two. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Husband’s penchant for porn feels like betrayal and belittlement," 23 Mar. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Jane Seymour and her 5 kids make rare public appearance together," 19 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'taboo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of taboo

Adjective

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for taboo

Adjective

Tongan tabu

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Time Traveler for taboo

Time Traveler

The first known use of taboo was in 1777

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Statistics for taboo

Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Taboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taboo. Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for taboo

taboo

adjective
How to pronounce taboo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of taboo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not acceptable to talk about or do

taboo

noun

English Language Learners Definition of taboo (Entry 2 of 2)

: a rule against doing or saying something in a particular culture or religion
: something that is not acceptable to talk about or do : something that is taboo

taboo

noun
ta·​boo
variants: also tabu \ tə-​ˈbü, ta-​ How to pronounce tabu (audio) \
plural taboos also tabus

Medical Definition of taboo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a prohibition in some cultures against touching, saying, or doing something for fear of immediate harm from a mysterious superhuman force
2 : a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure the view that incest, not cannibalism, was the world's first taboo— Phyllis Grosskurth
3 : belief in taboos

Other Words from taboo

taboo also tabu adjective
variants: also tabu

Medical Definition of taboo (Entry 2 of 2)

: to avoid or ban as taboo

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Comments on taboo

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