Taboo vs. Forbidden

By Jaxson

  • Taboo

    In any given society, a taboo is an implicit prohibition on something (usually against an utterance or behavior) based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people. Such prohibitions are present in virtually all societies. On a comparative basis taboos, for example related to food items, seem to make no sense at all as what may be declared unfit for one group by custom or religion may be perfectly acceptable to another.

    Whether scientifically correct or not, taboos are often meant to protect the human individual, but there are numerous other reasons for their existence. An ecological or medical background is apparent in many, including some that are seen as religious or spiritual in origin. Taboos can help use a resource more efficiently, but when applied to only a subsection of the community they can also serve to suppress a subsection of the community. A taboo acknowledged by a particular group or tribe as part of their ways, aids in the cohesion of the group, helps that particular group to stand out and maintain its identity in the face of others and therefore creates a feeling of “belonging”.The meaning of the word “taboo” has been somewhat expanded in the social sciences to strong prohibitions relating to any area of human activity or custom that is sacred or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs, or cultural norms. “Breaking a taboo” is usually considered objectionable by society in general, not merely a subset of a culture.

  • Taboo (noun)

    An inhibition or ban that results from social custom or emotional aversion.

  • Taboo (noun)

    Something which may not be used, approached or mentioned because it is sacred.

  • Taboo (adjective)

    Excluded or forbidden from use, approach or mention.

    “Incest is a taboo subject in most soap operas.”

  • Taboo (adjective)

    Culturally forbidden.

  • Taboo (verb)

    To mark as taboo.

  • Taboo (verb)

    To ban.

  • Taboo (verb)

    To avoid.

  • Forbidden (adjective)

    Not allowed; specifically disallowed.


  • Forbidden (verb)

    inflection of forbid||past|part

  • Taboo (noun)

    a social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing

    “Freud applies his notion of taboo in three ways”

    “the use of violence must remain a taboo in our society”

    “many taboos have developed around physical exposure”

  • Taboo (noun)

    a practice that is prohibited or restricted by social or religious custom

    “speaking about sex is a taboo in his country”

  • Taboo (adjective)

    prohibited or restricted by social custom

    “sex was a taboo subject”

  • Taboo (adjective)

    designated as sacred and prohibited

    “the burial ground was seen as a taboo place”

  • Taboo (verb)

    place under a taboo

    “traditional societies taboo female handling of food during this period”

  • Forbidden (adjective)

    not allowed; banned

    “a list of forbidden books”

  • Forbidden (adjective)

    denoting or involving a transition between two quantum-mechanical states that does not conform to some selection rule, especially for electric dipole radiation.

Oxford Dictionary

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