Taboo Party Word Game

Just About Any Word Can Become Taboo

Taboo is a party word game where what you don't say is just as important as what you do.

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Created by Hasbro, this game has been around a while. It came out in 1989 and was an instant hit. Over the years has become one of the classic competitive word games for groups of people.

The game is designed for 4-10 people divided into two teams and requires quick thinking, a lot of restraint and the ability to ignore a lot of noise, as this game can get quite loud with every one calling out words.

Object Of The Game

Taboo is a lot like the old Password game, for those who are old enough to remember that tv game show. It is also a little like verbal charades. The basic idea of the game is for the person who is the "clue giver" to give verbal clues to get their team to say a word that is at the top of a card drawn at random.

While this sounds easy enough, you have to get your team to say that word without you using any gestures or sounds such as barking or grunts and without saying any part of the word or 5 other words listed on the card that are closely associated with the word.

What You Need To Begin To Play

Taboo comes with the following...

  • 100+ word cards
  • a tray
  • a buzzer
  • a timer
  • a pencil and paper for keeping score

Some of the oldest versions of this game have a board that you use for keeping score by moving forward one square for each point your team earns. Most newer versions of the game have the pad and paper.

How To Play

  • You have two teams with an equal number of players. You sit around the table alternating one member of the A team and one member of the B team then A team player, B team player and so forth.
  • Next you decide which team will be the first to give clues to their team and which person on that team will be the first "clue giver."
  • When that player is ready to begin, the timer (an hour glass) is then set and the clue giver draws the first card from the pile in the tray. They then look at the word that they need to get their team to say and the 5 taboo words (listed under the main word.)

    They then decide to either play that card or pass. If they pass they draw another card, if they play the word then they begin giving clues to their team with the person from the other team looking over their shoulder to ensure that they do not say any of the taboo words.

  • If the player says one of the taboo words, uses a gesture or makes a sound that is considered to be a clue, the watcher from the other team hits the buzzer and that card and word is out of play and another card must be drawn.
  • If the team correctly guesses the word, the next card is drawn and the next until the time runs out.
  • The score is then tallied. The team giving the clues gets a point for each correctly guessed word. The opposing team gets a point for each pass and taboo word that was said.
  • The play then passes to the opposite team and the timer set.
  • The game usually ends when every member of the team has had the chance to be "clue giver."
  • The scores are then tallied and the winner is the team with the most points.

Tips And Tricks For Playing This Game

While the game is really too fast moving to form any real game strategy, there are some helpful tips.

First, you might want to consider setting some kind of timer that sounds off when time ends. While the hour glass works everyone gets so caught up in the game sometimes people forget to watch the timer.

Second, if your team is guessing the majority of the words very quickly and are suddenly stumped it is better to pass and give the other team one point and make three or four more points than to stay stuck on one word for any length of time.

If you are playing with couples or siblings that tend to think a lot alike, you may want to make sure that they are on opposing teams to avoid one team having a huge advantage over the other team.

Where To Play Taboo

You can get the board version as well as an electronic version of taboo at your local K-mart, Walmart or other stores that sell board games, or order it online from a games store or Amazon.

There is a free version of taboo online, however, the game only consists of cards and a timer and you play the game using the computer just like you would at home using the cards. The game itself is not actually played online.

There is an online game called Word Association that is a lot like playing the guessing part of taboo. You are given a list of clues for a word and you keep guessing what the word could be. When you run out of time your score is then calculated. While this game is nowhere near as much fun as the actual Taboo game it does give you practice in guessing words from clues which may help you when playing at that next get together.

There are several versions of the Taboo game itself that you can purchase. Mixing and matching cards from these games can help when you have run through all the cards for any one version. You can also make your Taboo cards by using the cards offered on the online game sites. This will help to increase your cards without going to a huge expense.

For those who are interested in a little Taboo trivia, there was once a televised game show based on this game, and by the same name. Also, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn played Taboo with Reese's character's mother on the movie "Four Christmases."

The latest Amazon reviews for this game show that it continues to be popular and well liked, receiving 4 ½ to 5 Stars. It seems that almost everyone who has played this game finds it to be fun.

Try playing it yourself, and see how many taboos you break!

Return from Taboo to Word Games Index

Return from Taboo to Word Games home

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