adverb Date: before 12th century 1. archaic backward, back 2. in a position to catch the wind upon the forward surface (as of a sail) 3. by surprise ; unawares <
was taken aback by her sharp retort

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aback — A*back ([.a]*b[a^]k ), adv. [Pref. a + back; AS. on b[ae]c at, on, or toward the back. See {Back}.] 1. Toward the back or rear; backward. Therewith aback she started. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] 2. Behind; in the rear. Knolles. [1913 Webster] 3.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • aback — ► ADVERB archaic ▪ towards or situated to the rear. ● take aback Cf. ↑take aback ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • aback — (adv.) c.1200, from O.E. on bæc at or on the back; see BACK (Cf. back) (n.). Now surviving mainly in taken aback, originally a nautical expression in reference to a sudden change of wind that flattens the square sails back against the masts and… …   Etymology dictionary

  • aback — [ə bak′] adv. [OE on bæc, at or on the back] 1. Archaic backward; back 2. Naut. backward against the mast, as the sails of a square rigged vessel in a wind from straight ahead taken aback 1. Naut. in an unmanageable condition, as because of a… …   English World dictionary

  • Aback — Ab ack ([a^]b ak), n. An abacus. [Obs.] B. Jonson. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • aback — [adv] taken unawares confused, surprised, thrown off, thrown off guard*; concept 403 …   New thesaurus

  • aback — adv. taken aback (I was taken aback) ( I was startled ) * * * [ə bæk] taken aback ( I was startled ; I was taken aback) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • aback — adv. 1 archaic backwards, behind. 2 Naut. (of a sail) pressed against the mast by a head wind. Phrases and idioms: take aback 1 surprise, disconcert (your request took me aback; I was greatly taken aback by the news). 2 (as taken aback) (of a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • aback — /euh bak /, adv. 1. toward the back. 2. Naut. so that the wind presses against the forward side of the sail or sails. 3. taken aback, surprised and disconcerted: I was taken aback by his harsh criticism. adj. Naut. 4. (of a sail) positioned so… …   Universalium

  • aback — [[t]əbæ̱k[/t]] PHRASE: usu v link PHR, oft PHR by n If you are taken aback by something, you are surprised or shocked by it and you cannot respond at once. Roland was taken aback by our strength of feeling... Derek was taken aback when a man… …   English dictionary

  • aback — adverb /əˈbæk/ a) Towards the back or rear; backwards; away. Therewith aback she started. b) Behind; in the rear. By setting the foresail aback and the headsail in the middle one can bring a fore and aft rigged sailing boat practically to a halt… …   Wiktionary

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