taboo[tə bo̵̅o̅′, ta-]
- The definition of taboo is something prohibited, forbidden or restricted.
An example of taboo is alcohol which is drunk while pregnant.
- A taboo is defined as a restriction or something not allowed by a culture.
An example of a taboo in some cultures is a man marrying a woman of another race.
- among some Polynesian peoples, a sacred prohibition put upon certain people, things, or acts which makes them untouchable, unmentionable, etc.
- the highly developed system or practice of such prohibitions
- any social prohibition or restriction that results from convention or tradition
- Linguis. the substitution of one word or phrase for another because of such restriction
Origin of taboo; from a Polynesian language: compare Tongan, Samoan, Maori, and the like tapu
- sacred and prohibited by taboo
- restricted by taboo: said of people
- prohibited or forbidden by tradition, convention, etc.
nounpl. ta·boos also ta·bus
- A ban or inhibition resulting from social custom or emotional aversion.
- a. A prohibition, especially in Polynesia and other South Pacific islands, excluding something from use, approach, or mention because of its sacred and inviolable nature.b. An object, word, or act protected by such a prohibition.
transitive verbta·booed, ta·boo·ing, ta·boos also ta·bued or ta·bu·ing or ta·bus
Origin of tabooTongan tabu, under prohibition, from Proto-Polynesian *tapu. Word History: The word taboo first appears in English in the journals of Captain James Cook, the British explorer who led three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean and greatly broadened European knowledge about the peoples living on the Pacific islands. In 1777, Cook wrote that the word “taboo &ellipsis; has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden&ellipsis4; When any thing is forbidden to be eat, or made use of, they say, that it is taboo.” Cook was in Tonga at the time, and so it is the Tongan form tabu that is the source of the English word taboo. However, words related to Tongan tabu are found in other Polynesian languages, such as Maori tapu and Hawaiian kapu. (In the history of Hawaiian, the original Polynesian t-sound has regularly changed to a k-sound.) Other words Cook brought back from his journeys include tattoo (also of Polynesian origin) and kangaroo (from Guugu Yimidhirr, a language of Australia).
(comparative more taboo, superlative most taboo)
(third-person singular simple present taboos, present participle tabooing, simple past and past participle tabooed)
Tongan tapu (“prohibited”). The word entered English around 1777. Ultimately from Proto-Polynesian *tapu.