Aback definitions

ə-băk'
By surprise.

He was taken aback by her caustic remarks.

adverb
31
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In such a way that the wind pushes against the forward side of a sail or sails.
adverb
28
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Back; backward.
adverb
25
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Backward; back.
adverb
18
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Backward against the mast, as the sails of a square-rigged vessel in a wind from straight ahead.
adverb
14
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(archaic) Towards the back or rear; backwards. [First attested prior to 1150.]
adverb
2
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(archaic) In the rear; a distance behind. [First attested prior to 1150.]

adverb
2
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By surprise; startled; dumbfounded.
adverb
0
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(nautical) Backward against the mast; said of the sails when pressed by the wind from the "wrong" (forward) side, or of a ship when its sails are set that way. [First attested in the late 17th century.]

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.

adverb
0
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(obsolete) An abacus.

noun
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Origin of aback

From Middle English abak, from Old English on (“at, on, or toward”) + bæc (“back”).