Taboo Game Techniques

by Terry Hollis
Get the night going with a rousing game of Taboo.

Get the night going with a rousing game of Taboo.

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Taboo is one of those games that's so simple it's brilliant. It plays a little like charades except with words. The goal is easy: get your teammates to say a word printed on a card that you draw from a deck. But -- and this is where the fun comes in -- you also have a list of words you can't use as clues. You're also timed, so being clear about the rules is a big help.


There are restrictions on what can be included in a clue. Stay away from any of the taboo words or any forms of them. So, if "donut" is a taboo word, you can't use the word "nut." You can't use pantomime to help your teammates, and sound effects are forbidden. Unlike charades, do not tell your teammates that a guess word sounds like another word, and if a word has a popular abbreviation you can't use that either.


The opposing team has the authority to stop the opposite team by "buzzing" them if the clue giver breaks any of the rules. Once the clue giver is buzzed, the card in play is taken out of play and they must move to another card. If a team chooses to buzz someone, that team must be prepared to give a reason. Once a card is taken out of play it becomes a point that is applied to the team that buzzed.


When playing with a group of people you don't know well, it won't work to rely on in jokes or common experiences, so you have to use deduction. Use clues that are widely known and very general, and then gradually get more specific. For instance, if the clue is "statue" you may start with "this city is called the big apple" and then "the biggest lady there" and hopefully you'll get the right answer.

Using Your Time

Timing is a major part of the game, whether you're trying to beat the timer or you spend too much time on one clue, so use your time wisely. If you see that your team is guessing clues relatively quickly, but you become stuck on one clue, it's better to give the point to the other team and make it up later. Also, select a timer with an automatic buzzer; it's easy to get caught up in the game and forget to look at an hour glass-style minute timer.

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