HOW TO PLAY TABOO – Discover the exhilarating Taboo board game—a lively party game designed to challenge your communication prowess by restricting specific words. It presents a thrilling obstacle where players must express themselves without uttering certain terms.

An engaging buzzer adds excitement by signalling rule infractions. Mastering the rules of Taboo is effortless, requiring only a brief explanation before diving into the fun-filled gameplay.


Taboo is an incredibly entertaining game that challenges players to convey the term “Brain Freeze” without using words like “Ice Cream,” “Headache,” “Eating,” “Cold,” or “Fast.” In this game, obvious hints are off-limits, pushing participants to beat the clock by offering imaginative and precisely phrased clues to prompt their team’s rapid guesses.

However, steer clear of the forbidden words, as their mention results in the dreaded “squeaker,” causing a loss of points. This engaging game revolves around strategic hints and quick thinking, adding an exciting twist to every round.

Below is a comprehensive step-by-step guide on playing Taboo, the widely enjoyed party game that revolves around imperfect communication. Also included are additional concepts and specific rules for your ease of reference.

Discovering how to navigate the game and its unique rules is essential for an enjoyable experience.

Step 1: Prepare the Buzzer Start by placing the distinctive buzzer on the playing surface. Ensure it is equipped with AA batteries if not previously inserted.

Step 2: Set Up the Sand Timer Retrieve the hourglass sand timer and position it at the centre of the table.

Step 3: Insert Cards into the Sleeve Taboo editions may vary, so adapt accordingly. Slide the cards into the sleeve, ensuring only the top card is visible for gameplay.
Step 4: Team Division Conclude the Taboo setup by dividing all participants into two evenly-matched teams.

Step 5: Initiating Gameplay – Selection of Clue Giver Gameplay alternates between the two teams. During their turn, each team designates one member as the clue giver while the remaining team members attempt to guess the designated word or phrase.

  • During Gameplay – Activating the Sand Timer To gauge the duration of the Taboo round, the hourglass serves as the timer, lasting precisely one minute once flipped. Upon readiness, initiate the game by flipping the timer. As the sand gradually descends to the bottom, the one-minute mark signals the end of the turn.
  • Team A Clue Giver’s Role in Gameplay Once the timer starts, the assigned clue giver draws the top card, displaying a highlighted word to convey and a set of “taboo” words that cannot be used as clues. Successfully guessing a word prompts the giver to set the card aside and proceed to the next one. This cycle continues until the timer runs out.
  • During Gameplay – Team B’s Role: While Team A engages in guessing and clue-giving, Team B assumes a different role. Seated beside the clue giver with the buzzer, Team B doesn’t participate in the active guessing but monitors the clues given. Whenever the clue giver unintentionally utters a “taboo” word, Team B promptly hits the buzzer. Each word mentioned in error results in the failure of that specific clue card, earning Team B a point for each buzzed card.
  • Scoring Phase Upon the timer’s completion and the round’s end, tally the successful clue cards acquired, excluding the failed ones. The accumulated successful cards determine the points earned for the round.
  • Passing the Turn and Repeating Once scoring is complete, the team’s turn concludes, and the game shifts to the opposing team. The roles reverse as they take their turn, providing clues to their teammates.

Ending the Game – Each Player’s Turn Conducts enough rounds to ensure that each player has an opportunity to act as the clue giver at least once. For instance, four rounds will be played in a scenario with four-player teams. If there’s an uneven number of players within the teams, one player will assume the role of clue giver twice to balance the turns.

Determining the Winner – Highest Score Upon completion of all rounds, the participant with the highest accumulated score throughout the game emerges as the winner. In the event of a tie, each team selects their most skilled clue giver for a showdown to break the tie. Mastering the gameplay of Taboo proves remarkably straightforward and enjoyable.

Guidelines for Clues

  1. Prohibition of Word Parts: Avoid providing any part or variation of a word printed on the card as a clue. For instance, if the word to guess is “PAYMENT,” using “pay” as a clue is not allowed. Similarly, if “DRINK” is on the restricted list, “drunk” cannot be utilized as a clue. In the case of “SPACESHIP,” clues like “space” or “ship” are prohibited.
  2. Gesture Restriction: Gestures, such as mimicking a gun for “shoot” or pointing to your nose for “beak,” are not permissible as clues.
  3. Sound Effects and Noises: Avoid producing sound effects like explosions or engine noises. However, singing is permitted during clue-giving.
  4. Exclusion of “Sounds Like” or “Rhymes With”: Refrain from stating that the guess word “sounds like” or “rhymes with” another word.
  5. Restriction on Initials or Abbreviations: Avoid using initials or abbreviations representing words listed on the card. For example, “MD” cannot be used if “MEDICAL” or “DOCTOR” is the guess word or a taboo word. Similarly, “TV” cannot be employed if “TELEVISION” is the guess word or a restricted term.


Having familiarized yourself with the rules, you’ve now learned to engage in Taboo. This energetic party game, centred on imperfect communication, is an excellent catalyst for any social gathering and promises much enjoyment.

Initially launched in 1989, Taboo continues to captivate players, standing the test of time. Its straightforward premise revolves around delivering clues while adhering to a limited set of restricted words, yet remarkably, this simple setup results in a highly entertaining experience.

Now equipped with the rules, it’s time to relish the game with friends or family and revel in the amusement it brings.


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