Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of aback
Meaning of aback by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • ( RP ) IPA: /əˈbæk/, X-SAMPA: /@"b{k/
    • Rhymes: -æk

    Etymology 1

    • First attested circa 1200 .
    • From Middle English abak, from Old English on ( “at, on, or toward” ) + bæc ( “back” ); formed as a- + back


    aback ( not comparable )

    1. ( archaic ) Towards the back or rear; backwards; behind .
      Therewith aback she started. - Geoffrey Chaucer
    2. By surprise; startled; dumbfounded .
    3. ( nautical ) Backward against the mast; said of the sails when pressed by the wind from the "wrong" ( forward ) side .
      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 .
    Usage notes

    Etymology 2

    From abacus


    aback ( plural: abacks )

    1. ( obsolete ) An abacus .

Explanation of aback by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. by surprise

    2. taken aback by the caustic remarks
    3. having the wind against the forward side of the sails

    4. the ship came up into the wind with all yards aback

    Definition of aback by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Aback ( ȧbăk ), adv. [Pref. a- + back; AS. on bæc at, on, or toward the back. See Back.]
      1. Toward the back or rear; backward. “Therewith aback she started.” Chaucer.

      2. Behind; in the rear. Knolles.

      3. ( Naut. ) Backward against the mast; -- said of the sails when pressed by the wind. Totten.

      To be taken aback. To be driven backward against the mast; -- said of the sails, also of the ship when the sails are thus driven. To be suddenly checked, baffled, or discomfited. Dickens.

    2. Aback ( ăbak ), n. An abacus. [Obs.] B. Jonson.