taken aback

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From taken + aback, first attested in 1840.


taken aback ‎(comparative more taken aback, superlative most taken aback)

  1. (figuratively) Surprised, shocked.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 8, The China Governess[1]:
      It was a casual sneer, obviously one of a long line. There was hatred behind it, but of a quiet, chronic type, nothing new or unduly virulent, and he was taken aback by the flicker of amazed incredulity that passed over the younger man's ravaged face.
  2. (nautical) Said of a ship, when the wind, suddenly changing, forces the sails aft against the mast.



taken aback

  1. past participle of take aback