taken aback

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sambistapt, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. sambistapt Senior Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    Hello amigos!

    Terry was taken aback by the bad news about his son.

    Could I use stunned, shocked or stumped in the place of it?


  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
  3. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    I would choose "stunned," or "shocked," but not stumped.
  4. Fedman3 Senior Member

    Los Angeles, California
    Spanish - Mexico
    You could use stunned or shocked, but these two terms, especially the latter, are more extreme than "taken aback". Taken aback is more of a temporary reaction, and one from which, it seems to me, one recovers more quickly than stunned.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Colloquially, if the situation is not only unforeseen, but also unlikely:

    Terry was blindsided...

    "Blindsided" means that it came from a side where you have no vision. If someone behind you punched you, he would have "blindsided" you.
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I second Fedman3's opinion; "taken aback" seems a little weak to describe the reaction of a parent to bad news about a child. Stunned, shocked, and blindsided are more appropriate to such a situation.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think this is the same thing really.

    Taken aback refers to the reaction on the part of the person who is taken aback.
    Blindsided refers to the action of the person doing the blindsiding.
  8. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I don't think that "taken aback" is nearly as strong as the replacements you've mentioned. I also agree with other posters that "taken aback" seems too mild in terms of bad news about one's child.

    "Taken aback", to me, means to be "disconcerted" or, perhaps, "nonplused".
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I'm not sure I agree. I believe the following is an accepted use of "blindsided":

    I was prepared for a frontal attack but I was blindsided by the attack from the rear.
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    But while you may be taken aback by a frontal attack, you can't be blindsided by it, can you?
  11. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    No, not unless you are looking the other way.

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