May 11, 2012
aback (adverb)
\uh-BAK\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: by surprise : unawares
How do you use it?
My entire family was taken aback by the news that, just one week before his wedding, cousin Daryl decided to elope with his fiancée instead.
Are you a word wiz?

"Aback" is a great word to add to your vocabulary, but you need to use it properly. Which sentence below uses "aback" correctly?

"Aback" is an adverb. In modern English it usually modifies a form of the verb "take," as in response A, where Mrs. Terry was clearly surprised by her neighbor's generosity. Answers B, C, and D all use "aback" incorrectly, either as the wrong part of speech or with the wrong meaning. By the way, the word "back" would be a better choice for sentence D today, but back in the year 1000, you might have used "aback" as a synonym of "back" (although "aback" hasn't been used that way since at least the 1800s).
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