The word taboo is of Polynesian origin introduced into the English language by Captain Cook who reported on the custom of human sacrifice in the Tahiti Island.The term was extended outside its original context and applied to a wide variety of ritual avoidances or prohibitions in different ethnographic environments.These include prohibitions of contact with certain kinsmen in special ritual states,eating certain foods and incest.
Sigmund Freud characterized taboo as a mixture of desire or attraction and fear or repulsion representing a primitive psychological conflict.
The term taboo is continued to be used in dealing with incest.Claude Levi Strauss viewed incest taboo not as an irrational phobia but an expression of collective wisdom.In that it promoted social integration by regulating the circulation of marriageble partners between groups of people.
Mary Pierce considered that taboo was applicable to different kinds of ritual prohibitions.Different forms of ritual avoidance occuring in different ethnographic contexts are considered to be related to the symbolic and socio-cultural contexts in which they occur.
Individuals are directed to conform to norms in society by taboos.The purpose of taboos may be productive,protective or prohibitive.Taboos related to cultivation are productive.When people are kept away from actions and objects ,the taboos are protective.Prohibitive taboos are those which seclude a person from certain objects.