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 ?
Shop boss Gurminder Tatlah, 42, said: "Jordan was shot in the face, which took him aback, but then he hit the guy with a drink can.
Government and police intervention after an Old Firm Scottish Cup clash took him aback and sectarian undertones surrounding recent sickening events would be enough to make most visitors run a mile.
When he saw the impact his decision made it took him aback and he had a rethink.
Koren, 29, who is now set to become one of the summer's most sought-after free agents, admits the news took him aback.
It is much more physical and intense than he is used to and I think that probably took him aback.
However, Laszlo insists his biggest barrier wasn't language when he moved to Uganda - it was the culture clash which took him aback.
The 24-year-old Anderlecht winger was on the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat in the Champions League in Glasgow last season and he admits the atmosphere took him aback.
Dons boss Calderwood admitted Inverness manager Craig Brewster's tactics took him aback a little but was delighted to take the points in a game he says was an example of his side's season.
It was like a soap opera at Blues this season, and Larsson said the attention and expectation took him aback.
Motherwell debutant Hammell, who came on for Andy Webster in the second half, admitted the step up in class between the Under-21s and full-international football took him aback.