Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Aback.

 Ab.Ab’acus. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Aback.
 
I was taken aback—I was greatly astonished—taken by surprise—startled. It is a sea term. A ship is “taken aback” when the sails are suddenly carried by the wind back against the mast, instantly staying the ship’s progress—very dangerous in a strong gale.   1
 


 Ab.Ab’acus. 

 
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