Origin of aback
Examples from the Web for aback
It was apparent that, seasoned to surprises as they were, Nick's presence took them aback.The Glimpses of the Moon|Edith Wharton
The simplicity of her question took Joseph aback, and he replied: I suppose thou'rt right in a way, Esora.The Brook Kerith|George Moore
It took the Captain aback, and he came to a stand, eyeing us, who look'd back at him without saying a word.The Splendid Spur|Arthur T. Quiller Couch
Denis's surprised displeasure at their action in opening the letter took them aback.The Graftons|Archibald Marshall
Somers was thrown all aback by this arrival, which was certainly the most remarkable one that had taken place during the day.The Young Lieutenant|Oliver Optic
- startled or disconcerted
- nautical(of a vessel or sail) having the wind against the forward side so as to prevent forward motion
Word Origin for 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.
see take aback.