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

Even as women have started to increasingly outearn their partners, the thought of a woman paying for her own ring still feels wildly taboo. Bethany Rutter, Glamour, "I Bought My Own Engagement Ring and I Couldn’t Be Happier," 8 Jan. 2019 In Morocco, violence against women remains widespread and a largely taboo subject. Fox News, "Harrowing account of tortured teen sparks outcry in Morocco," 30 Aug. 2018 Two currents are constantly crossing in the stories, the first depicting the polite forms of public interactions and the second pulsing with taboo fantasies and hallucinations. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Union of Death and Desire," 22 Nov. 2018 The move will not only drastically reshape marijuana in that country, but means that the entire West Coast — from Alaska to California — has become a marijuana marketplace where the formerly taboo drug is legal and commonplace. Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, "Canada is about to legalize cannabis; here’s what you need to know," 14 Oct. 2018 Gomez is the latest in a wave of millennial It-girls on a mission to elevate the once-taboo hair accessory (hello Carrie Bradshaw) to the next level. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Selena Gomez Has the Perfect Summer Vacation Hair Accessory," 20 June 2018 Activists are launching campaigns at a record pace as the rise in passive investing pressures fund managers to find new ways to beat the market and letting the rabble-rousing investors into boardrooms becomes less taboo. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Activist Investors Turn Up Heat in Drive for Returns," 12 July 2018 In the past, looking overly matchy has been considered a bit taboo among fashion people, but recently the popularity of wearing a full look has skyrocketed. Lindsay Peoples, The Cut, "A Cute Date-Night Outfit That’s Actually Comfortable," 6 July 2018 Unlike many of these works, Hereditary takes seriously the messy, often taboo feelings about parenting that many moms experience. Katherine Fusco, The Atlantic, "Hereditary and the Monstrousness of Creative Moms," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The film was highly influential with European filmmakers at the time, in large part because director Rene Manzor turned the holy day of Christmas into a violent nightmare scenario, violating a cultural taboo. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Dial Code: Santa Claus is our new favorite holiday cult classic," 24 Dec. 2018 Some of these splurges get at the heart of cultural taboos about how women spend their money. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "To Me, From Me: Stories That Celebrate a Little Self-Indulgence," 7 Jan. 2019 An article on June 3 about the softening of social and religious taboos in Iran misspelled the surname of a prominent wedding photographer. New York Times, "Corrections: June 14, 2018," 13 June 2018 Since the start of the new year, several stars have broached the subject publicly, despite there being a sense of taboo due to South Korea’s deeply ingrained cultural reluctance towards publicly discussing psychological disorders. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "2018 Sees K-pop Stars Addressing Mental Health Stressors in Industry," 23 Apr. 2018 The release of Le Pen’s book follows other literary controversies over the revisiting of historical taboos in France. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "No publisher would touch Jean-Marie Le Pen’s memoir. Now it’s a bestseller.," 1 Mar. 2018 For swearing to work, there has to be a frisson of taboo about it. Emma Byrne, Time, "The Absolute F-cking Best Swear Word For You," 23 Jan. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near taboo

tabloid

tabo-

tabonuco

taboo

tabor

Tabora

taborer

Statistics for taboo

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for taboo

The first known use of taboo was in 1777

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More Definitions for taboo

taboo

adjective

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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More from Merriam-Webster on taboo

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with taboo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for taboo

Spanish Central: Translation of taboo

Nglish: Translation of taboo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of taboo for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about taboo

Comments on taboo

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