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Taboo header


How do you get your team to say BISHOP?
You can’t say WARD, LEADER, CONDUCT, or FATHER. They’re Taboo— utterly unmentionable words!

Think fast, talk fast and don’t say a Taboo word or you’ll get called and lose a point!

You might say:

As you call out the clues, your teammates shout out the answers.
Taboo! It’s easy. It’s fastpaced. And it’s unspeakably fun!

Before playing, please read the rules that follow. Not to do so would be TABOO!
For 4 or More Players

Score the most points by guessing the most words.


•  You will need a 30 second timer and a pad for keeping track of the score.
•  Divide the players into two teams (Team A and Team B). It doesn’t matter if one team has one more player than the other.

See the picture below for seating.

1. Team A (in white shirts) chooses one of their players to be their first Clue-giver, and that player sits facing the card holder with the timer close at hand.
2. Team B’s players (in dark shirts) sit beside or behind Team A’s Clue-giver so they can see the cards as the Clue-giver plays them. Team B will call out if the Clue-giver uses any word that is TABOO.

3. The Clue-giver’s teammates are not allowed to see the cards and they should sit opposite their Clue-giver, waiting to shout out their answers.

4. After Team A’s Clue-giver has completed a turn, a member of Team B is chosen to be the next Clue-giver for their team. Seats are exchanged so that the new Clue-giver’s teammates cannot See the cards and the opposing team can see the cards. Team A will now call out if Team B’s Clue-giver says a TABOO word.
5. Teams take turns appointing Clue-givers and guessing words until all players have had one turn as Clue-giver. NOTE: If one team has one less player than the other, one player from that team is the Clue-giver twice.
When giving clues for the Guess word CHARIOT, you could say, “Eijah rode in one… it was made of fire… Ben Hur rode in one in the movie… Ammon was to prepare this for King Lamoni...”


1. The Clue-giver draws a card and holds it so his/her team cannot see. The word at the top of the card is the Guess word the Clue-giver is trying to get his or her teammates to say. The four words below the Guess word are the Taboo words the Clue-giver CANNOT say when giving clues for the Guess word.
2. As soon as a card is drawn, the Clue-giver starts the timer and begins giving clues that will make teammates say the Guess word. The clues may consist of detailed sentences, phrases or single word hints. The clues CANNOT break any of the rules listed in Number 3: RULES FOR CLUES below.

• No form or part of ANY word printed on the card may be given as a clue. Examples: If the Guess word is PAYMENT, “pay” cannot be given as a clue. If DRINK is a Taboo word, “drunk” cannot be given as a clue. If
SPACESHIP is the Guess word, you can’t use “space” or “ship” as a clue. No gestures may be made. Examples: You can’t form your hand in the shape of a gun to clue for “shoot”; or point to your nose to clue for “beak.”
• No sound effects or noises may be made, such as explosions or engine noises. However, feel free to break out into song.
• You cannot say the Guess word “sounds like” or “rhymes with” another word.
• No initials or abbreviations can be given if the words they represent are included on the card. Examples: MD cannot be used if MEDICAL or DOCTOR is the Guess word or a Taboo word. TV cannot be used if TELEVISION is the Guess word or a Taboo word.

4. As the Clue-giver gives clues, his or her teammates shout out possible words trying to say the Guess word. There is no penalty for wrong guesses.

Each time a teammate shouts out the correct Guess word, the Clue-giver’s team scores a point. The guessed card remains in the hand of the Clue-giver. The Clue-giver quickly draws another card and puts it in front of the already-guessed card(s). The number of guessed cards in hand is the number of points the Clue-giver earns for his or her team.

Clue-givers can lose points in two ways: by getting called for saying a TABOO word and by passing on a card. All points lost are awarded to the opposing team.

Getting called: During the Clue-giver’s turn, the members of the opposing team watch the Clue-giver and the cards. If a Taboo word is used by the Clue-giver or if any of the RULES FOR CLUES are broken, the call is sounded by the opposing team. This signals that the card is dead. The opposing team then quickly explains why the card was killed.

The Clue-giver removes the dead card from the hand and places it in a discard pile. Then the Clue-giver quickly draws a new card and continues playing. The number of cards in the discard pile are the points awarded to the opposing team on a turn.

Passing on a card: You may choose to pass and not play a card at any time during your turn as the Clue-giver. Pass by removing the card from the easel and placing it in the discard pile. The opposing team scores a point each time you pass.

Remember, you are racing against the timer and it may be in your best interest to pass rather than spend a lot of time on one card.

7. The Clue-giver’s turn continues until the timer runs out.

8. If there is an unfinished card in the Clue-giver’s hand, place it out of play. It does not count in the scoring. Now count the remaining cards that have been played for the Clue-giver’s team’s score. Count the cards in the discard pile for the opposing team’s score. Record the scores on the score pad for each team after each turn.

9. All cards in the hand and in the discard pile are placed out of play, before the opposing team’s Clue-giver starts the next turn.

When all players have had one turn as Clue-giver (or both teams have had the same number of turns as Clue-giver), the points on the score pad are totaled. The team with the most points wins the game.

In the case of a tie, each team chooses their best Clue-giver and takes one more turn to determine the winner.


This is a variation of the original TABOO rules © 1989 Milton Bradley Company. All Rights Reserved.


Taboo cards Right-click to download a pdf file of the cards.

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