For example, many different religions say that their members can't partake in eating certain kinds of food like shellfish, pork or beef.

What is a name for a general rule of this nature across religions? People don't "need" to do them as it is their choice to follow a religion, but still, doing something such as restricting one's diet can be a requirement of a religion itself.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:04
  • Is there honestly a reason to close the topic when it is, without any capacity for doubt, clearly about words in English and it's already been answered clearly?
    – John Joe
    Mar 29, 2018 at 17:02

6 Answers 6


Both, the restriction and the restricted behavior or object, are called (a) taboo.

A social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

(Oxford English Dictionary)

Taboo is a generic term used to describe restrictions in different cultures and religions. It is not normally used by the adherents of these religions. Naturally, these "local" terms are specific to the religion (e.g. "tref", or "haram").

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:03

It's just a


as was immediately mentioned in comments.

Couldn't be simpler.

This is the standard, common, term for precisely what you ask.

"What is a word for a restriction imposed by a person's religion?"


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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:03
  • 4
    Why did you vote to close the question, which prevents people from answering? That seems strange given that you yourself gave an answer. Are you trying to prevent further answers but yours is OK?
    – Mitch
    Mar 23, 2018 at 15:05
  • 3
    Also, can you edit your answer to put in the google search you used? I can't reproduce what you got. When I search for 'proscription' I don't get anything religious.
    – Mitch
    Mar 23, 2018 at 15:06
  • Although it is true that proscription is very often used in religious contexts, its meaning does not, strictly speaking, entail that what it stands for is religious in nature. Except for being more formal, proscription is generally interchangeable with prohibition. The formal tone of proscription makes it particularly apt for religious contexts, but it would not be incorrect to use it outside them.
    – jsw29
    Oct 5, 2018 at 16:31

I'm hesitant to pick only one, because there are different contexts and different religions. Generally speaking I would have to go with "commandment" (Hebrew: mitzvah or mitzvot).

King James Version

Leviticus 22:31

Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.

Christians have the Ten Commandments, Jews have their 613 commandments, many are prohibitions. For example mitzvah or commandment 192 against the eating of blood:

Leviticus 3:17
It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood.

Commandment 195 is the prohibition of mixing milk and meat. The passage for this is taken to be:

Exodus 23:19

Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk.

Secondly I would go with "anathema" or "heresy".

2.(Ecclesiastical Terms) a formal ecclesiastical curse of excommunication or a formal denunciation of a doctrine

3.(Ecclesiastical Terms) the person or thing so cursed

There are certain words associated with different religions. For example permitted foods in Islam and Judaism are halal and kosher. I know the opposite of halal is haram, from which we get our word harem (as in a place for concubines). It basically means forbidden.

  • 2
    'Commandment' is too general, as are 'dogma', 'tenet', and 'religious principle / requirement'. These all cover Thou shalt's as well as Thou shalt not's. Requirements to do certain things as well as requirements to abstain from certain things. // I've already suggested 'anathema' as being in the right area, but OP requires say 'The eating of hoopoe is an anathema', which, as your examples would seem to indicate, looks very unidiomatic. Mar 19, 2018 at 10:46
  • @Edwin Ashworth Well I've already mentioned specific to Islam that "haram" is forbidden food to eat as opposed to "halal".
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 19, 2018 at 10:48
  • 2
    FYI: The opposite of "kosher" is "tref". Mar 19, 2018 at 14:30

The OP requires a word which expresses both an imposed restriction and a voluntary abstention ('something someone can't do').

Both these meanings are contained within the one word ordinance.

Ordinance : A practice or usage authoritatively enjoined or prescribed; esp. a religious or ceremonial observance,


The 'practice' of the ordinance is the voluntary participation or the voluntary abstention. The 'restriction' is what is prescribed or enjoined. And it is within (in this case) a religious context.

That is, something (in the OP's example) is a prohibition or restriction which results in either voluntary abstention or enforcement of some kind.

  • Prohibition (Restriction)

Prohibition : The action or act of forbidding; an edict, decree, or order which forbids, prevents, or excludes;


  • Abstention

Abstention : The action of keeping oneself back, abstaining or refraining


There is an example of this in the King James bible.

But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. Acts 15: 20

The apostles at Jerusalem wrote to those Greeks in Corinth who had recently chosen to follow the teaching of the apostles. Certain Greek practices were unsuitable and the apostles wrote to convey certain prohibitions which had to be accepted by new converts.

  • Enforcement

The first Corinthian epistle documents the consequences when someone did not abstain with regard to what had been prohibited by ordinance - they were removed from the company.

And the second Corinthian epistle documents their being received back again after repentance.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:02

There are two questions you are asking, one in the title of this thread, and another in your last sentence:

Question 1: What is a word for a restriction imposed by a person's religion?

canon law (Roman Catholicism)

sharia law (Islam)

halakhic law (Judaism)

Question 2: But, what is a name for something someone can't do due to their religious beliefs?


The commission of a sin breaks the law/restriction imposed by the religion (I think not all law violations are sins though).

  • 1
    The term "iniquity" is an Old Testament term and predates"sin."
    – Stu W
    Mar 19, 2018 at 12:50
  • 3
    @StuW that doesn't make any sense at all. Both are English words. The OT is written in Hebrew, with a large variety of words variously translated as sin, iniquity, and more. Mar 19, 2018 at 13:31
  • 1
    These are sets of religious laws in general, not restrictions on individual behavior per se. In fact, very little canon law dictates individual behavior other than very broad guidelines like "All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy life" or "the Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education."
    – choster
    Mar 19, 2018 at 15:21

May I suggest the words "Proscribed" and "Transgression"?

eg: "Damon read the proscribed literature, even though he knew it to be a transgression against his beliefs."


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