take (one) aback

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take (one) aback

To startle, astonish, shock, or disconcert one. It took us all aback a bit to learn that John was moving to England next month. I'm sure the news of the merger takes everyone aback, but please believe me that this is in the best interest of the company.
See also: aback, take

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

take someone aback

shock, surprise, or disconcert someone.
The phrase is frequently used in the passive form (be taken aback ): this was adopted in the mid 19th century from earlier (mid 18th-century) nautical terminology, to describe the situation of a ship with its sails pressed back against the mast by a headwind, preventing forward movement.
1991 Kathleen Jones Learning Not To Be First They were taken aback by the shabbiness of the hotel and lack of cleanliness in the city generally.
See also: aback, someone, take
References in periodicals archive ?
He said: "When you hear the dreaded 'C' word it takes you aback.
Following his diagnosis the lifelong Newcastle fan, who was born into a mining family, in North Seaton, Northumberland, said: "When you hear the dreaded 'C' word it takes you aback.
Her installation, Land's End, certainly takes you aback when you first walk into the gallery, which is stacked up with painted metal structures, incorporating painted discs and mirrors, that look a bit like drum-kits.
The sort of remark that takes you aback for sure, but do we now question Muhammad Ali's right to have called himself the greatest?
It finally came on Friday morning and nothing takes you aback like when you are told you are going to be making your first start for England.