Number of players
Recommended age
Competition type
Two teams
Playing time
-40 min
Cost or investment

Brief description of the game

Players in Taboo must describe a keyword avoiding the use of certain forbidden words, taboo words! The close relationship between the keyword and the forbidden words makes this game so special and fun.
Taboo game cards
Table of contents
girl playing taboo game

How to play Taboo

Things you need to know before starting to play

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Number of players

Taboo is a game for 4 to 10 players, from 13 years old.

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What do you need to play

Taboo is a commercial game, so you have to buy it or borrow it from your neighbor, a friend, your sister… And then return it in perfect condition ;-)

The game includes:

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Word cards are the key element of this game. On each card there is a keyword to guess and several forbidden words for that keyword.

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Taboo also includes a horn that should sound when a player says any of the forbidden words.

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The game also includes an hourglass that is used to measure each turn’s duration.

Taboo list of words” by bigbirdz is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Creating teams

Taboo is played by teams. Form two balanced teams and sit alternately so each player has players from the other team to his left and right.

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Rounds and turns

Taboo is played in rounds. In each round each player will have a turn. You must agree the number of rounds for your game session before you start playing.

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Who’s first?

The player who has played Taboo the most times starts. His or her turn will serve as example to the novice players.

Goal of the game

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What do you need to do to win?

The goal in Taboo is to guess as many keywords as possible without using the forbidden words.

TABOO rules: Gameplay

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Placing the cards in the holder

Each card is associated with a color. A Taboo game uses all cards of the same color. They are shuffled and placed face down in the holder provided with the game.

Carta con palabras prohibidas Tabú

This is how to play a turn in Taboo:

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Word cards

The player whose turn it is receives the holder with the cards in place and face down.

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The watcher

A player of the other team who is seated next to the previous one takes the horn and will be the one controlling the forbidden words, which must be within his sight.

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A player from the watching team turns the hourglass.

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Describing keywords

The player whose turn it is turns over the first card, quickly reads the keyword and taboo words and begins his description. Team players will try to guess it.

  1. If he succeeds, he will put aside the card to his right —a point for his team— and turn the next card to try to score another point. And so on until the time runs out.
  2. If the keyword seems too difficult, you can move it to your left —point for the opposing team— and try the next one.
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The watchman will sound the horn if he hears any of the forbidden words and that card will be moved to the left of the player whose turn it is —point for the watching team—.

Jugando a Tabú

Board Game Night” by hectorir is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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If the describing player cheats and the watching team notices, that card will be moved to the left —point for the watching team—. What is considered cheating? This is explained below:

  1. You cannot mime.
  2. You cannot say the word in pieces or by syllables.
  3. It is not allowed to rhyme or say words that sound phonetically similar….
  4. Abbreviations are not allowed.
  5. You cannot say the word in another language.

However, you can say any word that is not in the card. For example, you can say MUSICIAN even though MUSIC is a forbidden word.

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Turn ends when there is no sand left at the top of the hourglass. The watching team must control the time.

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The team whose turn it was will add one point to its score for each card guessed. The watching team will add one point for each card not guessed: discarded and associated with traps or taboos.

Puntuación en partida de Tabú

Score!” by bigbirdz is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Next turns

Turn is passed to the player on the right, counterclockwise. Each turn is played in the same way.

Game over. Who wins?

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End of game

The Taboo game ends when the agreed rounds have been played.

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And the winner is…

The winner will be the team that has scored the most points.

Variants: the Taboo die

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The Taboo dice

Taboo includes a die that we have not yet discussed. This die offers a variant to the game that changes the rules before each turn.

The player whose turn it is rolls the Taboo die before starting to describe words. The die has symbols on its faces that indicate how the rules will be modified in that turn. Possibilities are:

  • Only one player on the team can guess the word
  • Double time
  • Both teams can guess the word
  • Statue: the describing player cannot move and the other team shows him the cards.

Tips for playing Taboo

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Start playing without the dice

Our advice is not to use the die in first games. It is not necessary. Use it only when all players are experts and you want to spice up your Taboo session.

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Mix cards of different colors

To avoid repeated words in future games, use cards of a different color.

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Where to buy TABOO

You’ll find Taboo in stores specializing in board games. Also available on any ecommerce platform.

It’s price usually ranges around $30.

Check current price and deals for Taboo on Amazon

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LOODENS rating

The Taboo game is as simple as fun, and that’s why it always succeeds. If you haven’t played Taboo game with friends or family yet, we recommend you to surprise them with this proposal in your next gathering or game session and surely you will spend an hour or two laughing.

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