\ ə-ˈbak How to pronounce aback (audio) \

Definition of aback

1 archaic : backward, back
2 : in a position to catch the wind upon the forward surface (as of a sail)
3 : by surprise : unawares was taken aback by her sharp retort

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Examples of aback in a Sentence

completely taken aback by the neighbors' announcement that they were moving

Recent Examples on the Web

We frankly were taken aback by the fact that Ohio Excels had developed their own recommendations. Patrick O'donnell, cleveland.com, "Ohio halts school ‘takeovers,’ adds wraparound services and new graduation requirements," 17 July 2019 Gauff said she's been taken aback by her new celebrity status that's included photos and autographs, as well as congratulations from former First Lady Michelle Obama. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Cori 'Coco' Gauff says ultimate goal is to be the 'greatest' ever following Wimbledon run," 9 July 2019 She looked taken aback, as if the answer were obvious. Jan Hoffman, New York Times, "Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes," 5 June 2019 While the Warriors gave the Raptors credit and didn't use the injuries as an excuse, they were still taken aback by their run of bad luck. Aj Neuharth-keusch, USA TODAY, "'You've got to be kidding': Warriors stunned by injuries to Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson," 14 June 2019 Several said officials seemed shocked by the turnout and were taken aback by the negative reaction to their mitigation plan. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "City, military officials took wrong route to Elmendorf’s bird island," 8 June 2019 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Friday with a top official from South Korea, whose leaders had appeared to be taken aback when Trump withdrew from the summit. Fox News, "Trump shifts stance on Korea summit from 'off' to 'maybe'," 26 May 2018 Chinese Malaysians, a relatively well-off minority making up about a quarter of the population, and others who opposed Mahathir's often authoritarian rule were taken aback at first by the return of the 92-year-old to lead the opposition. Simon Roughneen, latimes.com, "Malaysia's opposition wins election, upsetting the coalition that has ruled for 60 years," 9 May 2018 And when Ian says that Jamie wants a surprise made for his wife, Murtagh is taken aback. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 5," 3 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aback

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for aback

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aback

The first known use of aback was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for aback



English Language Learners Definition of aback

: by surprise


\ ə-ˈbak How to pronounce aback (audio) \

Kids Definition of aback

: by surprise He was taken aback by the change in plan.

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More from Merriam-Webster on aback

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with aback

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aback

Spanish Central: Translation of aback

Nglish: Translation of aback for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aback for Arabic Speakers

Comments on aback

What made you want to look up aback? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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