Taken Aback: Learn the Meaning of the Useful Idiom “Taken Aback”

The phrase “taken aback” is heard and seen quite frequently in everyday conversations and writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and some information about its origin. You will also find some examples of how to properly use the phrase in conversations/statements and find some other ways to say the phrase, yet still convey the same meaning.

Taken Aback

Taken Aback Meaning

The phrase “taken aback” means that you are amazed or surprised by a situation and don’t know how to properly react to it.

Origin of this idiomatic expression

The phrase “taken aback” is a combination of two words. Aback was once two separate words that were merged into two to mean a backward movement. The first appearance of this phrase was in 1697 in a London newspaper and was used to describe the sails of a ship as they caught the wind. Over the years, the definition above has been adopted and the only time the word aback is used is when stating this phrase.

“Taken Aback” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement by a celebrity when being interviewed at a charity event about the donation of another celebrity.

  • “I was taken aback by his degree of generosity. He is a very kind man.”

A statement made by a high school football coach when being interviewed a few days after a big game.

  • “I am taken aback by the generous outpouring of love from our school and our community for our quarterback who was injured during the game on Friday night.”

Examples in Conversation

A conversation between a woman and a homeless woman on the street.

  • Homeless woman: Do you have a bit of change to spare? I have not eaten in a few days.
  • Woman: (Handing her money) I’ll tell you what. You come with me and I will buy you a nice hot meal and find you a warm place to stay for the night.
  • Homeless woman: Wow! I am taken aback by your kindness and generosity. Thank you so much!

More interesting examples:

  • I was taken aback by the news of his death.
  • He was taken aback by the new demands of the job.
  • I was taken aback, but deep down I wasn’t totally surprised.
  • Don’t be taken aback by my comments. I’m sorry for that.
  • Guys in the class will generally be taken aback, and ask me how I know this.
  • I was taken aback by what I saw.
  • Jenny was taken aback by some of the portraits.

Other Ways to Say “Taken Aback”

There are many ways that the idiomatic saying “taken aback” can be said in order to convey the same meaning. Some of the other things you could say include:

  • Amazed
  • In awe
  • Surprised
  • Shocked
  • Disconcerted

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Last Updated on March 19, 2020

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