set back on one's heels


Surprise, shock, or disconcert, as in The news of their divorce set us back on our heels. This idiom, with its graphic image of someone being pushed back, dates from the first half of the 1900s.

QUIZZES

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Cactus aficionados, don't get left in the dust with this quiz on desert plants. Find out if you have the knowledge to survive this prickly foray into the desert!
Question 1 of 7
This tall, horizontally branched cactus is probably the most recognizable cactus in Arizona. What is it called?

Words nearby set back on one's heels

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.