Definition of kapu in English:



mass noun
  • (in Hawaiian traditional culture and religion) a set of rules and prohibitions for everyday life.

    • ‘On January 14, 1794, Vancouver landed more cattle at Kealakekua Bay and requested a kapu against killing them.’
    • ‘Likewise, the focus of the ancient Hawaiian kapu or law sought to focus on the relationships of kauwa not only with the kahuna and aliyi, but with all of the other groups.’
    • ‘In 1830 Kamehameha III lifted the kapu on killing cattle.’
    • ‘It's easy to understand why the Polynesian culture was willing to go to the murderous extremes of kapu to try to appease Pele and avoid this - a practice which continued as late as 1819.’
    • ‘Until the reign of the iconoclastic Kamehameha II, Hawaiian culture was dominated by a rigid set of kapu, or taboos, sacred laws forbidding things like men and women eating together.’
    • ‘With Kamehameha's death, the traditional system of laws or rules, called kapu, had begun to crumble.’
    • ‘With the kapu system abolished, the missionaries found the Hawaiians living in a cultural void and receptive to the ideas embodied in Protestant Christianity.’