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Taboo (game)

Publisher(s) Hasbro
Publication date 1989
Genre(s) party game
Players 4 or more
Age range 12 and up
Setup time 3 minutes
Playing time 10 to 20 minutes
Skill(s) required Team play
Website product pageTaboo at Hasbro

Taboo is a word, guessing, and party game published by Parker Brothers in 1989 (subsequently purchased by Hasbro).[1] The objective of the game is for a player to have their partners guess the word on the player's card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card.

The game is similar to Catch Phrase, also from Hasbro, in which a player tries to get his or her teammates to guess words using verbal clues. Taboo was later the basis for a 2002 game show of the same name on TNN (now Spike), hosted by comedian Chris Wylde.[2]


  • Equipment 1
  • Rules 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • Variations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


  • A few hundred cards with 5 taboo words and the word that has to be explained on one side of the card (the exact number of cards depends on the game version)
  • Tray for holding cards
  • Timer (in the form of a one-minute hourglass)
  • Buzzer
  • Pencil and paper for scorekeeping

Some early editions include a board to track progress (as shown in the photo on this page), but current editions do not.[3]

The second edition of the game, produced in 1994, has a round, pink squeaker, or hooter, instead of a buzzer, as do the 1993 and 1990 editions.

Taboo Junior, the game for younger players, includes a purple squeaker, as do a few of the other editions from 1996 and 2002 as well as 2012.

In 1990, Hasbro sold packs of additional words, but they are no longer in production.


An even number of players from four to ten sit alternating around in a circle. Players take turns as the "giver," who attempts to prompt his or her teammates to guess as many keywords as possible in the allotted time. However, each card also has "taboo" (forbidden) words listed which may not be spoken. Should the giver say one, a "censor" on the opposing team hits the buzzer and the giver must move on to the next word. For example, the giver might have to get his or her team to deduce the word "baseball" without offering the words "sport," "game," "pastime," "hitter," "pitcher," or "baseball" itself as clues. The giver may not say a part of a "taboo" word;[4] for example, using "base" in "baseball" is taboo. The giver may only use speech to prompt his or her teammates; gestures, sounds (e.g. barking), or drawings are not allowed. Singing is permitted, provided the singer is singing words rather than humming or whistling a tune. The giver's hints may not rhyme with a taboo word, or be an abbreviation of a taboo word.

While the giver is prompting the teammates they may make as many guesses as they want with no penalties for wrong guesses. Once the team correctly guesses the word exactly as written on the card, the giver moves on to the next word, trying to get as many words as possible in the allotted time. When time runs out, play passes to the next adjacent player of the other team. The playing team receives one point for correct guesses and one penalty point if "taboo" words are spoken.

In popular culture

  • There was a game show based on TABOO in 2002, hosted by Chris Wylde.[5]
  • In the 2008 film Four Christmases, Kate (Reese Witherspoon), and Brad (Vince Vaughn) played Taboo with Brad's mother (Sissy Spacek) and her boyfriend.
  • On January 29, 2010, Cassandra Dominguez of Madrid, Spain scored what is believed to be a record 38 in a 4-round game of Taboo at the 2010 World Board Gamers Convention.
  • The game was also played in the show Will & Grace, in the season 3 episode, "Cheaters".
  • The buzzer was featured in The Office episode Special Project.
  • The game was played on BBC Radio 1 by Greg James during the second night of his Glasgow sofa surfing week in July 2012.
  • The game was played on The Ellen DeGeneres Show by Ellen DeGeneres and Katy Perry.


  • 1989 edition
  • 1990 edition with pink hooter
  • 1993 edition with pink hooter
  • 1994 edition with pink hooter
  • 1996 edition with pink hooter
  • 1999 10th anniversary edition
  • Celebrity Taboo
  • Platinum edition electronic Taboo
  • Taboo Jewish Edition
  • Taboo Junior
  • Taboo for Kids
  • The Big Taboo
  • Taboo Body Language
  • Taboo Quick Draw
  • Taboo Singaporean Version
  • 2002 edition with purple squeaker
  • 2003 edition with red squeaker
  • 2009 20th anniversary edition
  • 2011 All New version with new clues and a "game changing" die
  • 2013 edition with "game changing" die
  • Taboo Buzz'd

See also

  • Play Taboo Game Online ([6]
  • Taboo from FunkyGames, a variation for Android
  • Big Taboo, a variation
  • Word Charades, an iOS variation
  • Unspeakable - Taboo Like With Friends, a variation for iPhone


  1. ^ "Taboo (1989)".  
  2. ^ "The New TNN Unveils Unspeakable Fun With New Game Show 'Taboo" (Press release). PR Newswire. 9 April 2002. 
  3. ^ Hasbro Taboo Product Information
  4. ^ InstructionsTabooOfficial
  5. ^ "The New TNN Unveils Unspeakable Fun With New Game Show 'Taboo". PR Newswire. 
  6. ^ "Play Taboo Game Online". eXtreme Corp. 

External links

  • Play Taboo Game Online at
  • Taboo at Hasbro
  • Taboo on Android Devices (Google Play)
  • Category Kings - a Free game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
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