sacred; forbidden


a Māori religious or superstitious restriction on something

Word Origin for tapu

Māori, from Tongan
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

Examples from the Web for tapu

Historical Examples of tapu

  • Thus they have prevented the ascent of Mount Tongariro, which is tapu, or sacred.

  • Who among ye desires the life of Banderah and those to whom he has given his tapu?

  • But the tapu is more often the instrument of wise and needful restrictions.

    In the South Seas

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • In English usually written ‘taboo’: ‘tapu’ is the correct Tahitian form.

    In the South Seas

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Suffice it, that a thing which was tapu must not be touched, nor a place that was tapu visited.


    Robert Louis Stevenson