from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. By surprise: He was taken aback by her caustic remarks.
  • adv. Nautical In such a way that the wind pushes against the forward side of a sail or sails.
  • adv. Archaic Back; backward.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. By surprise; startled; dumbfounded.
  • n. An abacus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Toward the back or rear; backward.
  • adv. Behind; in the rear.
  • adv. Backward against the mast; -- said of the sails when pressed by the wind.
  • n. An abacus.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • All aback (
  • n. An abacus, or something resembling one, as a flat, square stone, or a square compartment.

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

  • adv. by surprise
  • adv. having the wind against the forward side of the sails


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From abacus


  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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


  • You may be taken aback when you encounter this tiny local bar.

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  • But I could tell that even she was taken aback by the degree of their interest.

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  • In the interview, he described the last 18 months as “painful” for him and his family, and seemed taken aback by the suggestion, made by his Democratic challengers and many critics outside of New York, that he should step aside.

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  • "Everybody was taken aback by the frequency of these injuries: the double amputations, the injuries to the penis and testicles," said Holcomb, now a medical professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

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  • The first time you tell a patient they're going to have to receive one they are taken aback and apprehensive, but they are remarkably tolerated, he said of the shots.

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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