take (one) aback

(redirected from took them aback)
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

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 ?
THE level of contempt and ridicule poured on the Smug Five's chief executives after their "secret meeting" took them aback.
We explained, with some passion, the strong connection with George Eliot and I think it took them aback and opened their eyes.
Blues believed that they were close to arranging a pounds 2million deal, plus add-ons, but Luton then took them aback with the new set of demands.
It really took them aback to see that the person who had filed the lien was a federal prisoner who had been locked in the Santa Rosa jail and wasn't happy about his accommodations.
What happened took them aback and I don't think they expected Celtic to play the way they did.