May 11, 2017
aback (adverb)
\uh-BAK\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: by surprise : unawares
How do you use it?
"‘Jeremy, what you doing out this time of night?' I questioned, taken aback to see him." (Mildred D. Taylor, _Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry_)
Are you a word wiz?

"Aback" is a great word to add to your vocabulary, but you need to use it in the right way. 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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