Taboo (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
DesignersBrian Hersch
IllustratorsAlbert Uderzo
Publication1989; 35 years ago (1989)
GenresParty game
Setup time1 minute
Playing time20 minutes
Age range12+
Skillsverbal skills

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 their teammates to guess words using verbal clues.

From 2003, a TV game show adaptation ran on TNN, hosted by Chris Wylde.[2]


  • A large number of cards with a word to guess and five taboo words that may not be spoken by the clue-giver
  • Tray for holding cards
  • Timer (in the form of a one-minute hourglass)
  • Buzzer or squeaker
  • Pencil and paper for scorekeeping

Some early editions included a board to track progress (as shown in the photo on this page).[3]

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

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.


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 their 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 their 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. Nor may they use a form of a word; for example, if the word was "wedding" and the taboo words are "marriage", "bride", "groom", "nuptials", or "honeymoon", the words "marry" and "bridal" would not be allowed. The giver may only use speech to prompt their 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 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.


  • 1989 edition[1]
  • 1990 edition with pink hooter
  • 1993 edition with pink hooter
  • 1994 edition with pink hooter
  • 1996 edition with pink hooter
  • 1999 10th anniversary edition
  • Bible Taboo[5]
  • Celebrity Taboo[6]
  • Platinum edition electronic Taboo
  • Taboo Jewish Edition[7]
  • 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
  • 2023 edition with "game changing" die and newly updated cards, yellow squeaker, and link to buzzer, timer, and scorecard app
  • Taboo Buzz'd[8]
  • Taboo Kids vs Parents[9]


  1. ^ a b "Taboo (1989)". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. ^ "The New TNN Unveils Unspeakable Fun With New Game Show 'Taboo". PR Newswire. September 4, 2002. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  3. ^ Hasbro Taboo Product Information
  4. ^ Official Taboo Instructions
  5. ^ "Bible Taboo". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2023-06-13.
  6. ^ "Celebrity Taboo". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2023-06-21.
  7. ^ "Introducing 'Tajew': Taboo, Jewish Edition". The Forward. 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  8. ^ "{Brag Worthy Christmas} Taboo Buzz'd Game Review and Giveaway". Retrieved 2023-06-13.
  9. ^ "Taboo Kids vs. Parents Family Board Game Instructions, Rules & Strategies - Hasbro". Hasbro Instructions. Retrieved 2023-06-12.