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A.Word.A.Day--taboo

Pronunciation RealAudio

taboo (tuh-BOO, TAB-oo) noun

Prohibition of a behavior, thing, person, etc. based on cultural or social norms.

adjective

Forbidden or banned.

verb tr.

To avoid or prohibit something as taboo.

[From Tongan tapu or tabu (forbidden).]

This word is found in several Polynesian languages but it was brought to English from Tongan by Captain Cook who first encountered it in 1777 and wrote about it in his journal... that would be a Cookbook?

"It's one of the great mysteries of anthropology. Why does every society -- and they all do -- have a list of taboo foods?"
Phillips Graham; Choosy Tastebuds Make The World Go Round; The Sunday Star Times (New Zealand); Sep 21, 1997.

"This is, after all, the age of air bags, bicycle helmets, and drunk-driving taboos, of warning labels, coroner inquiries and consumer product testing."
Leonard Stern; Calculating the Chances: How Safe is Safe Enough?; The Vancouver Sun (Canada); Oct 8, 2001.

This week's theme: words borrowed from other languages.

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