Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb By surprise.
  • adverb Nautical In such a way that the wind pushes against the forward side of a sail or sails.
  • adverb Archaic Back; backward.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An abacus, or something resembling one, as a flat, square stone, or a square compartment.
  • All aback (
  • Toward the back or rear; backward; rearward; regressively.
  • On or at the back; behind; from behind.
  • Away; aloof.
  • Ago: as, “eight days aback,” Ross.
  • Nautical, in or into the condition of receiving the wind from ahead; with the wind acting on the forward side: said of a ship or of her sails.
  • Figuratively, suddenly or unexpectedly checked, confounded, or disappointed: as, he was quite taken aback when he was refused admittance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete An abacus.
  • adverb Toward the back or rear; backward.
  • adverb Behind; in the rear.
  • adverb (Naut.) Backward against the mast; -- said of the sails when pressed by the wind.
  • adverb To be suddenly checked, baffled, or discomfited.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete An abacus.
  • adverb By surprise; startled; dumbfounded.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb by surprise
  • adverb having the wind against the forward side of the sails

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From abacus

Examples

  • As I read your stories and especially your friends who so generously comment I am taken aback (is aback a word?) by the generous sharing of wisdom you receive from your friends at French-Word-A-Day.

    subir - French Word-A-Day

  • Hillary grew up in this culture, so yes she was taken "aback" by these comments; you, others, and obama being so shallow minded and dismissive of someones culture and values is ignorant. obama will never be President.

    Geoffrey Garin: Obama's Small-Town Comments Would Damage Him In General Election -- And Super-Dels Should Consider Them

  • The richness and elegance of the church took me all "aback;" it was so entirely different from anything I had seen, that it was difficult to decide whether I was most charmed by its novelty or its beauty.

    Views a-foot

  • Options B and D are not correct as the word 'aback' means to get startled by something and does not means the same as the word 'back' which is used in the answer choices B and D.

    LearnHub Activities

  • Options B and D are not correct as the word 'aback' means to get startled by something and does not means the same as the word 'back' which is used in the answer choices B and D.

    LearnHub Activities

  • But then they see the finished works and it really takes them aback, which is great. "

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  • But then they see the finished works and it really takes them aback, which is great. "

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  • But then they see the finished works and it really takes them aback, which is great. "

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  • But then they see the finished works and it really takes them aback, which is great. "

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  • But then they see the finished works and it really takes them aback, which is great. "

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Comments

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  • "...there were occasions when Jack was tempted to ask his way of the many fishermen, English and Dutch, who haunted those perilous banks in their shallow-draught doggers, schuyts, busses, howkers, and even bugalets, and who made his progress all the more uneasy by lying across his hawse until the last possible minute or suddenly looming out of the darkness without a single light so that he had to throw all aback."

    —Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate, 285

    My favorite usage is taken aback all standing.

    February 9, 2008