take aback

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take aback

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.
See also: aback, take
References in periodicals archive ?
Cons: Parents may be taken aback by how raucously risque some of the humor really is (Siegfried spritzes on some animal pheromones, resulting in a string of bestial suitors).
Readers will be taken aback at the level of poverty endured when a caretaker bureaucracy failed, and will be warmed by the resilience of a people who overcame much and are still with us.
Indeed, fans of the most disturbing twists and turns of that celebrated series might well be taken aback by what Morel has to offer here.
I AM sure that I am not the only person to be taken aback by Esther McVey's letter (Daily Post, May 27) concerning MPs' expenses.
AM I the only Journal reader to be taken aback by the comments of Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford from Avon and Somerset Police (The Journal, January 3)?
And while temporary exemptions exist for new ventures with taxable receipts below $500,000, many small ventures may be taken aback when they receive letters saying they could owe back taxes.
Reynolds, who surprised many with his performance in ``Boogie Nights,'' seemed to be taken aback by the academy's selection.