(adverb) by surprise; “taken aback by the caustic remarks”


(adverb) having the wind against the forward side of the sails; “the ship came up into the wind with all yards aback”

Source: WordNet® 3.1

Etymology 1


aback (not comparable)

(archaic) Towards the back or rear; backwards. [First attested prior to 1150.]

(archaic) In the rear; a distance behind. [First attested prior to 1150.]

By surprise; startled; dumbfounded. (see usage)

(nautical) Backward against the mast; said of the sails when pressed by the wind from the "wrong" (forward) side, or of a ship when its sails are set that way. [First attested in the late 17th century.]

Usage notes

• (by surprise): Preceded by a form of the word take, see take aback.

Etymology 2


aback (plural abacks)

(obsolete) An abacus.

Source: Wiktionary

A*back", adv. Etym: [Pref. a- + back; AS. on bæc at, on, or toward the back. See Back.]

1. Toward the back or rear; backward. "Therewith aback she started." Chaucer.

2. Behind; in the rear. Knolles.

3. (Naut.)

Definition: Backward against the mast;-said of the sails when pressed by the wind. Totten. To be taken aback. (a) To be driven backward against the mast; -- said of the sails, also of the ship when the sails are thus driven. (b) To be suddenly checked, baffled, or discomfited. Dickens.

Ab"ack, n.

Definition: An abacus. [Obs.] B. Jonson.

Source: Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 1913 Edition


Word of the Day

5 December 2022


(adjective) unhurried and with care and dignity; “walking at the same measured pace”; “with all deliberate speed”

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