follow Dictionary.com

Capitol vs. capital? What's the difference?

aback

[uh-bak] /əˈbæk/
adverb
1.
toward the back.
2.
Nautical. so that the wind presses against the forward side of the sail or sails.
adjective, Nautical
3.
(of a sail) positioned so that the wind presses against the forward side.
4.
(of a yard) positioned so that its sail is laid aback.
Idioms
5.
taken aback, surprised and disconcerted:
I was taken aback by his harsh criticism.
Origin of aback
1000
before 1000; Middle English abak, Old English on bæc to the rear. See a-1 on, back1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for aback
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • An order well understood to mean, fill the main-topsail, after it has been aback, or the ship hove-to.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Well, when you consider that, can you wonder I was set all aback?

    Cap'n Warren's Wards Joseph C. Lincoln
  • A word used in veering for aback, alluding to the situation of the head-yards in paying off.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • It took her aback by its directness, and for a moment left her without an answer.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • This discovery knocked us all aback, and we were quite at a loss how to proceed.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • I certainly took him aback, and he almost dropped the glass.

    Two Sides of the Face Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • And there she saw a thing that struck her so aback with amazement, that every timid sense was mute.

    Cripps, the Carrier R. D. (Richard Doddridge) Blackmore
  • When he tried to come nearer her she laughed and thrust him aback.

    Privy Seal Ford Madox Ford
  • His reply took me aback, until his sinister face broadened into a smile.

    The Golden Face William Le Queux
British Dictionary definitions for aback

aback

/əˈbæk/
adverb
1.
taken aback
  1. startled or disconcerted
  2. (nautical) (of a vessel or sail) having the wind against the forward side so as to prevent forward motion
2.
(rare) towards the back; backwards
Word Origin
Old English on bæc to the back
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for aback
adv.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with aback

aback

see: take aback
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for aback

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for aback

13
15
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for aback