1. toward the back.
  2. Nautical. so that the wind presses against the forward side of the sail or sails.

adjective Nautical.

  1. (of a sail) positioned so that the wind presses against the forward side.
  2. (of a yard) positioned so that its sail is laid aback.

  1. taken aback, surprised and disconcerted: I was taken aback by his harsh criticism.


  1. taken aback
    1. startled or disconcerted
    2. nautical(of a vessel or sail) having the wind against the forward side so as to prevent forward motion
  2. rare towards the back; backwards

c.1200, from Old English on bæc “at or on the back;” see back (n.). Now surviving mainly in taken aback, originally a nautical expression in reference to a vessel’s square sails when a sudden change of wind flattens them back against the masts and stops the forward motion of the ship (1754). The figurative sense is first recorded 1840.

see take aback.

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