take (one) 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

taken aback

Startled, astonished, shocked, or disconcerted. All of us were a bit taken aback to learn that John was moving to England next month. I must admit that I was taken aback when I heard we weren't receiving our bonuses this year.
See also: aback, taken
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

taken aback

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.
See also: aback, taken
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

take aback, to

To surprise or discomfit. This term originally was nautical, describing sails that press against the mast and therefore suddenly impede a vessel’s progress. It was used figuratively from the early nineteenth century on. Dickens used it in his American Notes (1842): “I don’t think I was ever so taken aback in all my life.” It is heard less often today but has not died out.
See also: take, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also: