taboo

taboo
The term taboo derives from the Tongan ‘tabu’, meaning ‘sacred’ or ‘inviolable’. However, its contemporary use is broader, most generally meaning a social and often sacred prohibition put upon certain things, people, or acts, which render them untouchable or unmentionable. The most famous taboo is the near-universal incest taboo , prohibiting sexual or marriage relations between particular categories of kin. According to both Sigmund Freud (Totem and Taboo, 1938) and Claude Lévi-Strauss (The Elementary Structures of Kinship, 1969), society itself originated with the incest taboo. Other authors have stressed the function performed by taboos in society. Raymond Firth (inSymbols Public and Private, 1973) interpreted taboo as a mechanism of social control . In Purity and Danger (1966), Mary Douglas drew attention to the way in which the taboo serves as a social marker, creating and maintaining social classifications.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • taboo — [tə bo͞o′, tabo͞o′] n. pl. taboos [< a Polynesian language: cf. Tongan, Samoan, Maori, etc. tapu] 1. a) among some Polynesian peoples, a sacred prohibition put upon certain people, things, or acts which makes them untouchable, unmentionable,… …   English World dictionary

  • Taboo — Ta*boo , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Tabooed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Tabooing}.] To put under taboo; to forbid, or to forbid the use of; to interdict approach to, or use of; as, to taboo the ground set apart as a sanctuary for criminals. [Written also {tabu} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Taboo — Ta*boo , a. [Written also {tabu} and {tapu}.] [Polynesian tabu, tapu, sacred, under restriction, a prohibition.] Set apart or sacred by religious custom among certain races of Polynesia, New Zealand, etc., and forbidden to certain persons or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • taboo — 1777 (in Cook s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean ), consecrated, inviolable, forbidden, unclean or cursed, explained in some English sources as being from Tongan (Polynesian language of the island of Tonga) ta bu sacred, from ta mark + bu especially …   Etymology dictionary

  • taboo — [adj] not allowed, permitted anathema, banned, beyond the pale*, disapproved, forbidden, frowned on*, illegal, off limits*, outlawed, out of bounds*, prohibited, proscribed, reserved, restricted, ruled out, unacceptable, unmentionable,… …   New thesaurus

  • Taboo — Ta*boo , n. A total prohibition of intercourse with, use of, or approach to, a given person or thing under pain of death, an interdict of religious origin and authority, formerly common in the islands of Polynesia; interdiction. [Written also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • taboo — index ban, exclude, forbid, illicit, inhibit, prohibition, proscribe (prohibit), restraint …   Law dictionary

  • taboo — is a noun, adjective, and verb, and is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable in all three. The noun has the plural form taboos, and the verb has inflected forms taboos, tabooed, tabooing. The variant form tabu is restricted to… …   Modern English usage

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