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aback Syllabification: a·back
Pronunciation: /əˈbak/

Definition of aback in English:


1 archaic Toward or situated to the rear: the little strip of pasture aback of the house
More example sentences
  • The two started down the dusty road and John was quick to follow, but his father's words pulled him aback.
  • Now he could look right through the tiny window over the roof, on to the tree-tops aback of the house.
2 Sailing With the sail pressed backward against the mast by a headwind.
Example sentences
  • Once the boat has tacked the jib will be aback.
  • The wind came now from this side, now from that, determined to catch the sails aback.
  • Peter holds the jib aback until our bow swings across the wind.


take someone aback
Shock or surprise someone: he was taken aback by the sharpness in her voice
More example sentences
  • The consul was present at the Supreme Court hearing, and I think she was taken aback and shocked by what she heard.
  • When you go to such a place, you are taken aback by the youthfulness of the crowd.
  • People in England are aware of the divide, but the extent of it took me aback.
surprise, shock, stun, stagger, astound, astonish, startle, take by surprise;
dumbfound, stop someone in their tracks;
shake (up), jolt, throw, unnerve, disconcert, unsettle, bewilder
informal flabbergast, floor, bowl over


Old English on bæc. Long written as two words, the term came to be treated as a single word in nautical use.

Words that rhyme with aback

alack, attack, back, black, brack, clack, claque, crack, Dirac, drack, flack, flak, hack, jack, Kazakh, knack, lack, lakh, mac, mach, Nagorno-Karabakh, pack, pitchblack, plaque, quack, rack, sac, sack, shack, shellac, slack, smack, snack, stack, tach, tack, thwack, track, vac, wack, whack, wrack, yak, Zack
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