\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of aback in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Most recently, Van Lathan, a friend and TMZ journalist, was taken aback to finally learn about Hawkins’s NFL past. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "An Ex-NFL Player's Path to Do-It-All Media Personality," 14 Aug. 2019 When sponsors of a bill revamping Colorado’s oil and gas laws said the state’s regulations hadn’t changed much in decades, industry representatives were taken aback. Judith Kohler, The Denver Post, "Colorado toughened up its oil and gas rules. But how tough are they?," 11 Aug. 2019 Yet Martelli, now an assistant coach at Michigan under Howard, immediately found himself taken aback by Howard's honesty and character. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Phil Martelli 'touched immediately' in first conversation with Juwan Howard," 25 July 2019 But Chinese leaders were taken aback by President Trump’s failed meeting in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the people said. Bob Davis, WSJ, "U.S.-China Trade Talks Hit a Bump," 8 Mar. 2019 Actavis officials were taken aback, the court records show. Anchorage Daily News, "Little-known makers of generic drugs played central role in opioid crisis, records show," 27 July 2019 McCollum’s staff read through the U.S. Department of Justice grant application and were taken aback by the fact that a lobbyist for ShotSpotter, which makes gunshot detection hardware, took the lead in distributing it. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Betty McCollum critical of St. Paul police grant application calling Green Line a crime magnet," 26 July 2019 For a thoughtful man who was initially taken aback by the deal that sent him from the Big Apple, the star receiver seemed fully at peace as the Browns opened camp. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Cleveland Browns' Odell Beckham Jr., sheds signature dreadlocks 'to clean the slate'," 25 July 2019 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of aback

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aback

Dictionary Entries near aback








Statistics for aback

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aback

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!