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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective While Álvarez’s background has been highlighted at every possible chance, Bivol’s origin has been a taboo topic since the fighters descended on the strip this week. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 In many cases, people of color are afraid to speak up in the workplace and race is often seen as a taboo topic. Amiah Taylor, Fortune, 3 May 2022 Examples include mocking menstruators and labeling menstruation as a taboo topic that should only be discussed privately, behind closed doors. Moms Helping Moms, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Bringing these choices into the public sphere has helped normalize what has long been a taboo topic on all levels of athletics. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 29 Apr. 2022 Lichtenberg said finances are often a taboo topic for discussion, yet people are hungry for information about their own financial vulnerability level. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 27 Apr. 2022 Talking about income remains a taboo topic, and some companies try to prevent employees from revealing their salaries to co-workers. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2022 Crack remains a taboo topic for us, a topic steeped in pain, confusion, and disbelief. Ricky Blumenthal, Essence, 23 Feb. 2022 Menopause has long been considered a taboo topic, and the way it’s been handled in the series seems to confirm this. Tara Ellison, Vogue, 28 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Maybe not your usual taboo, tabloid-fare acting, if that makes sense. Kate Aurthur, Variety, 18 Apr. 2022 After the Nationalists ended nearly four decades of martial law in 1987, topics previously deemed taboo, including questions of identity and calls for independence, could be discussed. New York Times, 19 Jan. 2022 Instead Watkins makes connections between taboo, shocking, and shameful states of being to create a more honest relationship to humanity and freedom. BostonGlobe.com, 30 Sep. 2021 The convulsive and taboo-busting comic has transformed over time into a still bitingly funny and progressive feminist voice. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Friðriksdóttir was asked whether there had been a taboo about menstrual blood. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 Over the past 40 years, Vladimir Sorokin’s work has punctured nearly every imaginable political and social taboo in Russia. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2022 Some of the media’s silence about these tragedies has less to do with taboo and more with prevention. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 30 Mar. 2022 Harris added that many Black women also feel a taboo talking about these issues. Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, 21 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Basically, Pluto rules taboo topics that lie under the surface and that are hard to talk about. Elizabeth Gulino, refinery29.com, 27 Apr. 2021 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 Create an open dialogue and refuse to let anything be taboo between you two. Annie Lane, oregonlive, 23 Mar. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 Simply repurposing her stylish wardrobe, which is normally taboo in Hollywood. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 19 Feb. 2020 See More

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.

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

Learn More About taboo

Dictionary Entries Near taboo

tabonuco

taboo

tabor

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for taboo

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Taboo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taboo. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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

taboo

transitive verb
variants: also tabu

Medical Definition of taboo (Entry 2 of 2)

: to avoid or ban as taboo

More from Merriam-Webster on taboo

Nglish: Translation of taboo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of taboo for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about taboo

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