proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable: Taboo language is usually bleeped on TV.
prohibited or excluded from use or practice: In art school, painting from photographs was taboo.
(among the Polynesians and other peoples of the South Pacific) separated or set apart as sacred; forbidden for general use; placed under a prohibition or ban.
a prohibition or interdiction of anything; exclusion from use or practice: One of the strongest taboos in all modern societies is against incest.
(among the Polynesians and other peoples of the South Pacific)
the system, practice, or act whereby things are set apart as sacred, forbidden for general use, or placed under a prohibition or interdiction.
the condition of being so set apart, forbidden, or interdicted.
to put under a taboo; prohibit or forbid.
to ostracize (a person, group, etc.): While he is tabooed, no one may speak to him.
Tabu is also the variant in some other Polynesian languages of Melanesia and Micronesia. In Maori (the Polynesian language spoken on New Zealand), the form is tapu, which is also the reconstructed Proto-Polynesian form. Hawaiian has the variant kapu (Hawaiian changes Polynesian initial t- to k- ).
Use of tabu, taboo as a noun and verb is only in English: all the Polynesian forms are adjectives.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use taboo in a sentence
In that sense there are no taboos, although virtually no one in the know expects any really dramatic breakthroughs.
Their brandishing of totems, their busting of taboos is real world stuff, not symbolic.The Life and Art of Radical Provocateur—and Commune Leader—Otto Muehl | Anthony Haden-Guest | September 22, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
And this is also Planet Fashion, where shock reigns supreme and where taboos are challenged in imagery.In Defense of American Apparel: Why a Hitched-Up Skirt Barely Conceals a Profound Social Confusion | Tim Teeman | August 8, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
When you think about it, every private school has its odd customs, traditions, and taboos.The Makers of ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Heathers’ Discuss ‘Vampire Academy’ and Coming-of-Age Movies | Daniel Waters, Mark Waters | February 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
It allows the speaker to indulge racial taboos without ever crossing the line.
Taboos of first chapter indicate that in the early ages the fear of contamination by woman predominated.Taboo and Genetics | Melvin Moses Knight, Iva Lowther Peters, and Phyllis Mary Blanchard
The vast amount of evidence in the taboos of many peoples of dualism in the attitude toward woman.Taboo and Genetics | Melvin Moses Knight, Iva Lowther Peters, and Phyllis Mary Blanchard
I have no moral or psychological taboos against killing dictators, or anybody else.Hunter Patrol | Henry Beam Piper and John J. McGuire
Even in parts of Christendom it is girt about by rigid taboos, so that its practise tends to be restricted to a few occasions.Damn! | Henry Louis Mencken
Marriage-customs have always been a fertile field for the generation of taboos.Pagan & Christian Creeds | Edward Carpenter
British Dictionary definitions for taboo
forbidden or disapproved of; placed under a social prohibition or ban: taboo words
(in Polynesia and other islands of the South Pacific) marked off as simultaneously sacred and forbidden
any prohibition resulting from social or other conventions
ritual restriction or prohibition, esp of something that is considered holy or unclean
(tr) to place under a taboo
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for taboo
A descriptive term for words, objects, actions, or people that are forbidden by a group or culture. The expression comes from the religion of islanders of the South Pacific.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.