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The Definition of - aback (adv)

    toward the back.
    Nautical. so that the wind presses against the forward side of the sail or sails.
    adjective, Nautical.
    (of a sail) positioned so that the wind presses against the forward side.
    (of a yard) positioned so that its sail is laid aback.
    taken aback, surprised and disconcerted:
    I was taken aback by his harsh criticism.

Word Example of - aback

    Example Sentences for aback

    An order well understood to mean, fill the main-topsail, after it has been aback, or the ship hove-to.

    When he tried to come nearer her she laughed and thrust him aback.

    A word used in veering for aback, alluding to the situation of the head-yards in paying off.

    The midshipman went to sleep, and when he awoke he found the ship all aback.

    This discovery knocked us all aback, and we were quite at a loss how to proceed.

    “Throw it all aback,” he cut in as at last he caught my idea.

    And there she saw a thing that struck her so aback with amazement, that every timid sense was mute.

    Loose and set the topsail and topgallant-sail, and throw them aback!

    His reply took me aback, until his sinister face broadened into a smile.

    Well, when you consider that, can you wonder I was set all aback?

Word Origin & History of - aback

    Word Origin & History

    aback O.E. on bæc, "at or on the back." Now surviving mainly in taken aback, originally a nautical expression for a sudden change of wind that flattens the square sails back against the masts and stops the forward motion of a ship (1754). The figurative sense is first recorded 1840.