The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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1. The word ‘taboo’ comes from the Polynesian tápu and denotes, on one hand, a prohibition by which an object is withdrawn from everyday use, and on the other, the object itself.

A taboo can pertain to gods, human beings, bodily parts, objects, types of relationship, words, areas or regions, or, for example, a tribe. Depending on who prescribes it—for example a chief or a transcendent power—the nature of the obligation, and in case of transgression the severity of the punishment, can oscillate. A taboo can also be removed.

2. At first, conceptions of the taboo were researched region…

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Jödicke, Ansgar, “Taboo”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 27 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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