ver·​bo·​ten | \ vər-ˈbō-tᵊn How to pronounce verboten (audio) , fər-, ver- \

Definition of verboten

: forbidden especially : prohibited by dictate

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Did You Know?

Despite its spelling, the adjective verboten has nothing to do with verb, or any of the other words in our language related to Latin verbum. Rather, verboten comes from German, which got it from Old High German farboten, the past participle of the verb farbioten, meaning "to forbid." (Forbid itself derives from Old English forbeodan, a relative of farbioten.) Verboten, which first appeared in English in 1916, is used to describe things that are forbidden according to a law or a highly regarded authority. There also exists a noun verboten, meaning "something forbidden by authority" (as in "well-established verbotens"), but this use is quite rare and is typically entered only in large, unabridged dictionaries.

Examples of verboten in a Sentence

a college campus on which any form of hate speech was strictly verboten
Recent Examples on the Web Bringing growlers and crowlers – take-home beer containers – is verboten for now, Macatangay says. Phillip Valys,, "Hopportunities, South Florida’s first self-serve beer bar, pouring in downtown Delray Beach," 13 Nov. 2019 That's still true in the minority of states where marijuana remains verboten. Michael Rubinkam,, "In era of legal pot, can police search cars based on odor?," 20 Sep. 2019 That’s still true in the minority of states where marijuana remains verboten., "Sniff and search is no longer the default for police in some of the 33 states that have legalized marijuana.," 17 Sep. 2019 Jovial references to swearing, narcotics or homosexuality were verboten. R.d., The Economist, "The state of comedy in Russia," 30 Oct. 2019 Kristi Coulter, who served as the head of worldwide editorial and site merchandising, led a group that spent weeks compiling a list of verboten products, which Bezos’s top deputies then reviewed. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan," 10 Oct. 2019 To say this is verboten doesn’t begin to capture it. Mary Louise Kelly, Washington Post, "A look inside the CIA that the agency isn’t ready for you to see," 11 Sep. 2019 The short answer is its ingredients — which mimic the verboten crustacean with a proprietary algae blend — could well be both kosher and halal. Washington Post, "Shalt thou eat an Impossible Burger? Religious doctrine scrambles to catch up to new food technology.," 12 Sep. 2019 The German press was scandalized by this use of verboten vocabulary, and as a consequence the original Taz writer and two of the paper’s editors were sacked. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Death of Taboo," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'verboten.' 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 verboten

1916, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for verboten

borrowed from German, going back to Old High German farboten, past participle of farbiotan "to forbid," (parallel to Old English forbēodan "to forbid entry 1"), from far-, fur- for- + biotan "to offer" — more at bid entry 1

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The first known use of verboten was in 1916

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Last Updated

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Verboten.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on verboten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for verboten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with verboten

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