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What does aback mean? Definition and examples

aback | ə-ˈbak

The adverb ‘aback,’ in the expression “To be taken aback” means to be shocked or surprised.

If someone was ‘taken aback’ by something, it means that they were surprised or shocked by it.

Archaic meaning: “backward, back”.


Etymology and history

According to Merriam Webster, the word ‘aback’ was used before the 12th century in its archaic meaning.


Examples of ‘Aback’ in a Sentence

Before uttering or writing the word, we place the passive form of ‘take’ – to be taken, as in: I was taken aback by, they were taken aback by…

Look at these two examples:

“The students at class were taken aback by the teacher’s decision to not give them homework for a month.”

“Michael was taken aback and not quite sure how to react to the news his wife wanted to move town.”

“The Prime Minister was taken aback when the government adviser said a national lockdown was necessary to stop the spread of the virus.”

“The astronauts were taken aback by the outer-space type music.”


Synonyms of the word ‘Aback’

Suddenly, unexpectedly.

Remember, unlike its synonyms, ‘aback’ must be preceded by ‘to be taken aback.’