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 ?
This took us aback and we refused to actually offer the government secondhand trains.
They shot exceptionally well and they were clicking, and I think that took us aback some.
One thing that took us aback was how much people who live on beautiful Orcas Island love to visit Bellingham.
What took us aback was our realization that years of experience had endowed the psychiatrist with a keen sense of inference that allowed her to discern a patient's disorder.
What also took us aback a little was the fact that there are so many talented and experienced people out there".
O'Neill said: "I didn't think he was going to be as good as he turned out - his run in the Stayers' took us aback a bit.
The cost of pounds 17,000 - which does include limited work inside the factory and the civil engineering to prepare the cable trenches - rather took us aback.