In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort and his Death Eaters used the Taboo curse with Voldemort's name, making the word "Voldemort" taboo. Whenever someone speaks a word that is taboo, the caster is alerted of the speaker's location. In that way, Death Eaters several times immediately found whoever said Voldemort's name.

So why doesn't the Ministry of Magic use the Taboo curse on the Unforgivable Curses (Killing Curse - Avada Kedavra, Cruciatus curse - Crucio, and Imperius curse - Imperio)? In that way, they can immediately know if someone used an Unforgivable Curse, find them, and arrest them at once.

  • Pure speculation - the taboo jinx is a dark magic. Commented May 26, 2015 at 14:04
  • Saw how useful that was with Morfin Gaunt though didn't you? True that in that case it's that the Trace is flawed. But even so ask it could be a nightmare at some point esp since those who are Imperiused can also cast it. I disagree that the Taboo is dark magic but who knows? The fact the MoM is rather corrupt I could see how they might want to do this too.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 1:09

2 Answers 2


There is no canon explanation, I guess, but here some possible reasons:

  • The Taboo spell sounds like something very complicated. It detects as someone speaks out a certain name without regard of any protective spells cast. Remember how Ron, Hermione, and Harry were caught by the snatchers despite the protection they had. Voldemort is an immensely powerful wizard and it is very likely that he is the only one (save for Dumbledore) who can cast such a spell.

  • The Taboo spell seems to detect whoever says out loud "Voldemort". Most adult wizards can cast nonverbal spells so the detection would not be very effective, especially for the level of complexity the spell requires.

  • Speaking the spell words out loud is not like casting it. For example some students might be studying DADA and read about the spell. Or someone might be reading an article in the newspaper about an unforgivable curse incident. If all these are detected then this will create a lot of "noise" and the ministry will lose lots of time filtering out real incidents from someone just speaking the words.

Edit - one more that I thought about:

  • The Taboo can be used to lure in your opponents into a trap after you know about it. You say the word while 10 of your people stay nearby and ready, wait for the 'enemies' to appear, kill them and disapparate before anyone notices. Just hope that Voldi does not come to check what's up personally.
  • 3
    Taboo didn't have effect with Harry, Hermione and Ron when they were staying at 12 Grimmauld Place, as it seems Fidelius Charm protected them against it. And Unforgivable Curses are also complicated, as they were mostly not used non-verbally. But I understand your third point though, students need to learn about the curses. Their interests are purely academic, of course.
    – Rokin
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 14:35
  • 3
    Point 3 is clearly the best. Imagine every instance of "I'll cap that [expletive]" or similar deaththreats being alerted. Useless, basically. Commented May 26, 2015 at 18:04
  • Also note that the taboo spell undoes basic protective enchantments around the wizard who says the taboo word aloud. Deliberately undoing someone's protective enchantments they cast around themselves (even though it is for the seemingly benign purpose of detecting Unforgivables) may be seen as technically a violation of the right to privacy. I assume the wizard government is democratically elected, and they probably would not want to implement any policies that might annoy their voters.
    – user13267
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 23:43

It is probably considered dark magic by the ministry. I do not recall it ever stating one way or another but seeing as it was Voldemort that cast it there is a greater than zero chance of it requiring stuff such as human sacrifice.

On another note it would be extremely foolish to set up a taboo. doing so puts a major backdoor into any security. As far as I recall the only defense was the Fidelius charm which is not an option for the ministry. All anybody has to do to take down the wards for the ministry is to get one person in and bye bye wards.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.