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Interesting article Kate. Just one error. ‘Taboo’ comes from Tongan tapu ‘sacred’. Here’s what the OED says:

ˈTabu is also the form in several languages of Melanesia and Micronesia, as in some of the islands of Vanuatu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, etc. The general Polynesian and Maori form (also in some of the islands of Vanuatu) is ˈtapu (tapu adj. and n.), in Hawaiian ˈkapu. Some of the Melanesian languages, as those of Fiji, and some of the Solomon Islands, have ˈtambu, New Britain ˈtabu and ˈtambu. Various cognate forms occur in Melanesian and cognate languages. The Tongan form was that first met with by Captain Cook, in 1777, from the narrative of whose voyages the custom with its name became known in England. In French spelt tabou. The accentuation taˈboo, and the use of the word as noun and verb, are English; in all the Melanesian and related languages the word is stressed on the first syllable, and is used only as adjective, the noun and verb being expressed by derivative words or phrases.

As originally used in Polynesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, etc.: Set apart for or consecrated to a special use or purpose; restricted to the use of a god, a king, priests, or chiefs, while forbidden to general use; prohibited to a particular class (esp. to women), or to a particular person or persons; inviolable, sacred; forbidden, unlawful; also said of persons under a perpetual or temporary prohibition from certain actions, from food, or from contact with others.”

It has nothing to do with menstruation.

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