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 Dialogue around personal finance from breaking into the stock market, saving for retirement and salary negotiations is no longer taboo. Bridgette Bartlett Royall, Essence, "9 Black Financial Educators You Should Be Following on Instagram," 9 Apr. 2021 Talking about money is, in most circumstances, taboo in America. Frederick Daso, Forbes, "Alinea Invest, A Y Combinator FinTech Startup, Empowers Gen-Zers To Invest In The Stock Market," 5 Apr. 2021 Before the pandemic, the charcuterie platter and grazing table trend was at an all-time high, but what happens to a craze that revolves almost entirely around sharing when large gatherings are taboo, and some people are wary of ever mingling again? Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "You Can Stop Worrying: The Cheese Board Influencer Economy Is Doing Just Fine!," 1 Apr. 2021 The word ‘virus’ may be taboo nowadays, but Sherman said there is no evidence of humans being at risk of anything related to the bears. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, "'Just didn't seem quite right': Bears with rare disease appear unfazed by humans, worrying officials," 31 Mar. 2021 U Thein Tan, another member of the parliamentary budget committee, said that fellow lawmakers felt uncomfortable with all the spyware in the budgets but that questioning anything to do with the security services was taboo for civilian politicians. New York Times, "Myanmar’s Military Deploys Digital Arsenal of Repression in Crackdown," 1 Mar. 2021 The treatment is still taboo and most men do not feel comfortable doing it at a salon or barbershop. Annie Davidson, Robb Report, "An Expert Guide to At-Home Hair and Beard Coloring for Men," 30 Mar. 2021 In the past in ballet, gyms were taboo because of a fear of bulking up. New York Times, "What Is a Ballet Body?," 3 Mar. 2021 At the Ghazipur site, 29-year-old Ravneet Kaur, a law student from Bangalore, has successfully normalized conversations around a taboo topic in India: menstruation. Nilanjana Bhowmick, Time, "'I Cannot Be Intimidated. I Cannot Be Bought.' The Women Leading India’s Farmers’ Protests," 5 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Other rooms tackle taboo topics ranging from atheism to homosexuality. Sarah El Deeb, The Christian Science Monitor, "On Clubhouse, Arabs debate taboo topics – for now," 9 Apr. 2021 Other rooms tackle taboo topics ranging from atheism to homosexuality. NBC News, "Loud debates, fun banter: Mideast finds outlet in Clubhouse," 9 Apr. 2021 What’s your belief about developing Alinea around communities to overcome the individual nature and collective taboo around managing money? Frederick Daso, Forbes, "Alinea Invest, A Y Combinator FinTech Startup, Empowers Gen-Zers To Invest In The Stock Market," 5 Apr. 2021 The conversation around navigating the workplace through a miscarriage can be taboo topic. Erin Corbett, refinery29.com, "When Will People Who Have Miscarriages Be Given Paid Leave From Work?," 26 Mar. 2021 Princes William and Harry, her sons, have extended her legacy by discussing once-taboo issues like mental health. Aj Willingham, CNN, "America is obsessed with the Royals. So we make our own," 14 Mar. 2021 As for how the hoaxers get away with it, there is a strong taboo in liberal circles against questioning anyone’s identity, or their experiences of trauma. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "The Identity Hoaxers," 16 Mar. 2021 Even in 2021, the subject of anti-wrinkle injectables remains a taboo. Jessica Matlin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow on Getting Anti-Wrinkle Injectables: "I'm an Open Book!"," 12 Mar. 2021 In addition to rules preventing pay discussions, there is a societal taboo on talking about the size of our paychecks. Kim Elsesser, Forbes, "Want Equal Pay? Get Employees Talking About Their Paychecks," 11 Mar. 2021 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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Learn More about taboo

Statistics for taboo

Last Updated

13 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Taboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taboo. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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 taboo (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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