20 Feb /13


Taboos vary from society to society depending on beliefs, ethics and cultural distinctions, but where does the actual word come from?

From the Tongan word tapu or Fijian tabu (“prohibited”, “disallowed”, “forbidden”), related among others to the Maori tapu. Its usage in English dates back to 1777 when the British explorer James Cook visited Tonga. Describing the cultural practices of the Tongans, he wrote:

“Not one of them would sit down, or eat a bit of any thing…. On expressing my surprise at this, they were all taboo, as they said; this word has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden.”

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