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How do you get your team to say APPLE? You can't say RED, FRUIT, PIE, CIDER, or CORE. They're TABOO- utterly unmentionable words!

Think fast, talk fast and don't say a TABOO word or you'll get buzzed and lose a point!

You might say:

  • "New York is the big one".
  • "Eat one of these a day to keep the doctor away".
  • "William tell used one for target practice".

As you call out the clues, your teammates shout out the answers. Before playing, please read the rules that follow. Not to do so would be TABOO!


  • 504 Cards
  • Card Holder
  • Buzzer
  • Timer
  • Scorepad

Object of the Game

Score the most points by guessing the most words.


Place the buzzer and timer within easy reach of all players. Fill the card holder with cards. Play with the green side first.

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.

Taking Turns

  1. Team A 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 sit beside or behind Team A's Clue-giver so they can see the cards as the Clue-giver plays them. Team B controls the buzzer.

  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. The buzzer is passed to Team A.

  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 fewer players than the other, one player from that team is the Clue-giver twice.

  6. When you have finished playing with the green side of the cards, flip them over and play with the purple side!

When giving clues for the Guess word Tom Hanks, you could say, "He is an actor... He played a professor Langdon ... He won a golden reward".

Game Play

The Clue-giver draws a card from the card holder and places it on the easel, as shown in Figure below. The word at the top of the card is the Guess Word the Clue-giver is trying to get his or her team mates to say.

The five words below the Guess Word are the TABOO words the Clue-giver CANNOT say when giving clues for the Guess Word.

As soon as a card is drawn, the Clue-giver turns over the timer and starts giving clues that will make teammates say the Guess Word. The clues may consist of detailed sentences, phrases or single word hints.

Rules for Clues

  • 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 as a due for "shoot"; or point to your nose as a clue for "beak".

  • No sound effects or noises may be made, such as explosions or engine noises. However, feel free to break 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.

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.

Scoring a Point

Each time a teammate shouts out the correct Guess Word, the Clue-giver's team scores a point. The guessed card remains on the easel. The Clue-giver quickly draws another card and puts it on the easel in front of the already-guessed card(s).

The number of correctly guessed cards in the easel is the number of points the Clue-giver earns for his or her team.

Losing a Point

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

Getting Buzzed

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 buzzer 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 easel 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.

The Clue-giver's turn continues until the timer runs out. The opposing team watches the timer and signals when time is up.

If there is an unfinished card on the easel, place it out of play. It does not count in the scoring. Now count the remaining cards on the easel 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 scorepad for each team after each turn.

All cards on the easel and in the discard pile are placed out of play before the opposing team's Clue-giver starts the next turn.

End of the Game

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 scorepad 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.

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