Taboo Database

Posted January 16, 2000 at 5:25 pm 37 Comments

Taboo, the Game of Unspeakable Fun.

One of our favorite pastimes over winter break is to play Taboo, a popular board game from Milton Bradley.  Billed as “The Game of Unspeakable Fun”, Taboo is a spoken word game that involves trying to get your team to guess a secret word without using any of five clue words specified as “taboo”.  How, for example, would you describe the word kitten without using the words meow, cat, purr, furry, or animal?  As a player gives clues, he is constantly monitored by a member of the opposing team; if he makes any mistakes, he is unceremoniously “buzzed” and a point is deducted from his team’s score.
There are many ways to succeed in Taboo.  Hand gestures, sound effects, and “sounds like” clues are prohibited, but  legal clues can consist of suggestive sentences, song lyrics, fill-in-the-blanks phrases, or even one-word hints.  Here’s an example: How would you suggest the word diamond to your team if you couldn’t say baseball, carats, ring, jewel, or engagement?  Here are some possibilities:

  • “They’re forever…”

  • “Hope is a huge one…”

  • “The World Series is played here…”

  • “Some are found in the rough…”

Rolex makes gold ones…”

Sara’s clue for “Paul Revere”:
“It’s the GUY!  The GUY!”

My friends and I play Taboo a lot.  Our games extend late into the night and often consume the entire deck of 504 cards.  You might say that we have evolved Taboo playing to an art form.  If I say aquatic animal, my teammates won’t say fish, they’ll say barracuda.  Why?  Because they know that there is no fish card, but there is a card with the word barracuda.

Most people accuse us of memorizing the cards, which isn’t really fair.  We don’t try to memorize the cards; we’ve just played so frequently that we start to remember them.  The effective result is that we’ve established clues for nearly every card.  If there were a professional Taboo tournament, I think that my friends and I would be serious contenders for the world championship title.  If I say film, my teammates will immediately name Citizen Kane, Alien, and Blade in rapid succession, since those are the only three film titles contained in the Taboo deck.  Mention anything to do with Russia, and they’ll spout off Sputnik, Red Square, and Glasnost — the only three Taboo cards  related to this subject.  Playing Taboo at this level of expertise makes for some interesting games; the problem is that nobody wants to play with us anymore.  One night we gave our opponents a 100-point handicap — and then lost by only one point.

“Gay people come …
of the closet”

Blackjack dealers derive almost no thrill from a game of blackjack.  They’ve memorized the best course of action for every possible hand, so what is a game of skill for many has become for them a game of chance.  The same could be said of us and Taboo.  Once you’re familiar with all of the cards, the game play becomes somewhat mechanical.

That’s why we need your help.  I’ve created a system that allows you to easily create new Taboo cards for us to use.  Click here to give it a try.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Hi, you really need to somehow make the submitted Taboo question cards printable so that we can use them too! Great idea btw…I’ve submitted a bunch of good ones

    Comment by Dave — September 17, 2006 #

  2. Here here, I’ll second that. Awesome idea, and browsing through they appear mostly good. May I request a copy of the database, including the ratings?

    Comment by Matt — September 25, 2006 #

  3. Wow, a huge database of Taboo words..execellent! I wished I could print the cards though. Hope that you can provide that option. Cheers!

    Comment by David — October 30, 2006 #

  4. Can you share the database? Please!

    Comment by Steve — December 6, 2006 #

  5. Great idea, and I submitted some cards…but you should make the database available to everyone and printable.

    Comment by Mark — January 2, 2007 #

  6. Love the user-generated taboo card idea! Are you considering making it shared? Thanks if you do!

    Comment by Andy — March 19, 2007 #

  7. Hi
    Can you share this database?
    i want it to try play this game with my friends here im brazil i can’t find this game

    Comment by David — October 29, 2007 #

  8. Hello, This is an awesome idea! I have some database skills. I’d love to help you make the database accessible to the public.

    Comment by Will — December 2, 2007 #

  9. Hi there!
    /Please/ share the database, I desperately want to play it the day after tomorrow!! 🙂

    Comment by taboo fanatic — December 3, 2007 #

  10. Is there any way to see and print the database or is it just for your own use?

    We love the game, but need new cards.

    Comment by joni — December 5, 2007 #

  11. Can you please share the database? I’m hooked on taboo and desperately need new words.

    Comment by Deidre — December 22, 2007 #

  12. question for you: would you say using the word “liquid” for describing “liquor” is allowed? It was not one of the taboo words. And, how about “clean” if the word was “tissue” but one of the taboo words was “Kleenex?” We had huge arguments over these words… what do you think?

    Comment by Raisa — December 25, 2007 #

  13. i’m a taboo addict. please share your database so that my friends won’t think i’m cheating. 🙂 thanks.

    Comment by terri — December 26, 2007 #

  14. Our friends and neighbors are all “hooked” on Taboo but need to get addtional cards because we all know the ones that come with the game…It’s a shame more cards are not availble.

    Comment by duncan webster — January 1, 2008 #

  15. WTF, share the wealth already! Or if you want to make money, start up a page that gives you ad revenue and gives us at least pieces of the data base… But you have it and we want it, so figure out a way to make us all happy!

    Comment by Rob — January 5, 2008 #

  16. Have you made the database available at this point??

    Comment by Stephanie — January 21, 2008 #

  17. Hi everyone,
    I’ve been meaning to make some improvements to the database, including a “print cards” feature. I’ve received many similar requests over the years. Perhaps I’ll get around to improving the Taboo database one of these days, but in the meantime, here is a link where you can print out all of the cards with an average rating of 2 or greater:

    You probably will still want to throw out some of them, as people submit a lot of really crappy cards. Enjoy!

    Comment by monzy — January 23, 2008 #

  18. This looks like a taboo refill. eh? I”m like santa.

    Comment by mike D — September 26, 2008 #

  19. Thanks so much monzy for making some printable, how bout all of them! 🙂

    Comment by Mish — November 6, 2008 #

  20. Hi Monzy,
    Did you take down the Print cards feature? It was working a few days ago and I was looking forward to using it tomorrow and printing it today but am getting the message “Object Not Found”

    Comment by Grace — January 2, 2009 #

  21. hey can you send that link again? is it still available? i can’t seem to open it…error message pops up…but yeah…i totally want to print up the taboo cards!

    Comment by Mika — January 2, 2009 #

  22. The link is broken:

    Comment by joe — January 11, 2009 #

  23. Link to printable cards no longer seems to work =(

    Comment by Phylogenetic_Uncertainty — January 11, 2009 #

  24. Your allcards link is broken… any chance of getting all the cards?

    Comment by Gene — January 19, 2009 #

  25. The allcards.cgi link doesn’t seem to work.

    Comment by Mark — January 23, 2009 #

  26. when this game 1st came out about a year later they had refills for it. do u know where i can buy they from. our toy r us dont carry them anymore.

    Comment by stacey — February 15, 2009 #

  27. Hey please can you post the link where you can download the cards from.. Really need some new cards

    Comment by Rohitashwa — March 18, 2009 #

  28. Hi Monzy,

    great work!
    Is it possible to make the database public again? Your link is not working anymore 🙁

    Comment by Kalle — April 1, 2009 #

  29. Hi, the database link does not work. Could you please give me a link that works? I would like to get some taboo words to use in my ESL classes. Thanks a lot

    Comment by Peter — April 14, 2009 #

  30. I was so excited to see the link to print out the cards but it does not work. We you please resubmit the link and open it to us.


    Comment by Susan — April 20, 2009 #

  31. Can you please please provide the the correct link. A lot of us here love this game and it would be really great to have a link to download the database, even if it is in a really raw format.


    Comment by boysha — August 24, 2009 #

  32. Hi Monzy,
    I was wondering if I could have access to your taboo card database. I am planning on developing software that would take any word you enter, and generate clue words. This would be done by using statistical machine learning techniques to infer some underlying relationships between the key word and the clue words for preexisting taboo cards, with the aid of huge bodies of text that contain those key words, thesauri and dictionaries, wikipedia, and other sources. Perhaps we could collaborate some how? I am a taboo fanatic as well, and would like to have some way of being able to play a completely *new* game every time.

    Comment by Taylor — September 8, 2009 #

  33. any news on when the database will be up?

    love taboo – we play it for hours and hours and hours when we go camping! which means weve done our cards to death!!

    Comment by jess — November 15, 2009 #

  34. You should release a database of all the cards that have a rating of 4 or more.

    BTW – you could probably make a decent amount of money on google adsense if you did this.

    Comment by Aaron — December 29, 2009 #

  35. Hey Monzy,

    any chance that we could print out some cards for tomorrows new years eve?


    Comment by Nik — December 30, 2009 #

  36. Hey there,

    dunno if it was Monzy, but sells additional “Taboo” cards in PDF format. I’m probably gonna try them out.
    Maybe we should try to set up a public database that everyone can use. I was wondering if Monzy was sued by Hasbro or something and therefore took the link offline. Would be nice to get a short feedback on this, since there are still people looking for it 🙂

    Thanks and best regards,

    PS: I’m gonna play English taboo cards, so if you run out of cards, you could play the German or French cards, haha!

    Comment by Alex — January 6, 2010 #

  37. Please share the database! (old links don’t work)

    Comment by Bob — March 25, 2010 #

Leave a comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.