Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- (idiomatic, transitive) To surprise or shock; to discomfit.
- I was rather taken aback by his angry reply.
- The bad news took us aback.
- 2014, Steve Rose, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: a primate scream - first look review", The Guardian, 1 July 2014:
- They haven't seen humans for years, so when a small expedition, led by Jason Clarke, stumbles into apetopia, both sides are taken aback.
- (nautical, usually passive) Of a ship: to catch it with the sails aback suddenly.
- Most commonly found in the passive voice.
- Unlike most phrasal verbs, take aback in the active voice requires its object to immediately follow the verb. *The bad news took aback us is ungrammatical in contemporary English.
to surprise or shock