Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- From Middle English abak, from Old English on (“at, on, or toward”) + bæc (“back”).
- a- (“towards”) + back (“back”).
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.]
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Knolles to this entry?)
- By surprise; startled; dumbfounded.
- (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.]
- By setting the foresail aback and the headsail in the middle one can bring a fore-and-aft rigged sailing boat practically to a halt even in heavy wind.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Totten to this entry?)
- (by surprise): Preceded by a form of the word take.
in the rear
said of sails pressed backward
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
Translations to be checked
aback (plural abacks)
abacus — see abacus
- 2003 , Brown, Lesley editor, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, edition 5th, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-860575-7, page 2: