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Related to aback: taken aback
be set aback
To be startled, astonished, shocked, or disconcerted. (A less common variant of "be taken aback.") All of us were a bit set aback to learn that John was moving to England next month. I must admit that I was set aback when I heard we weren't receiving our bonuses this year.
set (someone) aback
To startle, astonish, shock, or disconcert someone. (A less common variant of "take someone aback.") It set us all aback a bit to learn that John was moving to England next month. I'm sure the news sets everyone aback, but please believe me that this is in the best interest of the company.
Cliché surprised and confused. When Mary told me the news, I was taken aback for a moment. When I told my parents I was married, they were completely taken aback.
confused or surprised by something unexpected Company executives have been taken aback by the criticism. I asked him directly if he was looking for someone with my skills, and I think he was kind of taken aback.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of aback (backward), which is not used in modern English
Surprise, shock, as in He was taken aback by her caustic remark. This idiom comes from nautical terminology of the mid-1700s, when be taken aback referred to the stalling of a ship caused by a wind shift that made the sails lay back against the masts. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1829.