- toward the back.
- Nautical. so that the wind presses against the forward side of the sail or sails.
- (of a sail) positioned so that the wind presses against the forward side.
- (of a yard) positioned so that its sail is laid aback.
- taken aback, surprised and disconcerted: I was taken aback by his harsh criticism.
Origin of aback
- taken aback
- startled or disconcerted
- nautical(of a vessel or sail) having the wind against the forward side so as to prevent forward motion
- rare towards the back; backwards
Word Origin and History for taken aback
c.1200, from Old English on bæc "at or on the back;" see back (n.). Now surviving mainly in taken aback, originally a nautical expression in reference to a vessel's square sails when a sudden change of wind flattens them back against the masts and stops the forward motion of the ship (1754). The figurative sense is first recorded 1840.