take back vs take aback

dn88

Senior Member
Polish
Hey guys :),

Can I use take back instead of take aback? I mean in such a context (my example): "He was really taken back by her rude answer." Does it mean the same as "He was really taken aback..."? Maybe 'a' is just omitted, and hence we obtain take back? Any opinions? I only want to make certain that I'm not wrong in this case...
 
  • dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Okay, let me cite an excerpt from a joke (forgive me, but it's a bit dirty :D):

    [...] "Well, teach, I've got a question for you... There are 3 women that come out of an ice-cream parlor, one is biting her ice-cream cone, one is licking it, and one is sucking on it. Which one is married?"
    The teacher, a little taken back by the question, answers "Well, uh, gee Matt, I guess the one that's sucking on the ice cream." [...]


    Now, is it only a typo? If not, what's the meaning of "taken back" in the context above?
     

    sir archie

    Banned
    english
    "taken back" has no meaning in that context. It is an error. It should be "taken aback"
    Unless it is something the Americans have started to do that I do not know about. I am an English english speaker. We don`t use " back" in that way
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    I concur that it is a typo. "taken aback" is the phrase you want in this context.

    To 'take back' is retrieve something that you had previously given or loaned to a person.

    "taken aback" means to be startled or surprised

    Orange Blossom
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Well, I see the difference. Perhaps in colloquial speech (maybe generally in spoken English) the average speaker is more likely to say "back" instead of "aback" than use it in written language. Although such a person intends to say "aback", this "a" sometimes may be inaudible (particularly if someone speaks very fast). That's my personal conclusion. :) Thank you.
     

    sir archie

    Banned
    english
    Well perhaps , if you are a little hard of hearing , that could be the case .
    However ABACK, begins with the sound A, quite a definate and emphatic sound at the start of the word. I think it would be unlikely to mistake ABACK for BACK. The rythm is different too. ABACK had two syllables where as back only has one.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I suspect that taken back is a "correction" of taken aback by someone who hears taken aback and can't believe it's correct. For someone who is not familiar with aback as a word, the difference between the two is very small.
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    The difference in meaning is great; the difference in sound is quite small. Many people in the United States speak very quickly. Entire syllables are omitted from their speech, consonants are dropped, vowels change to the schwa sound. If someone is writing a sentence using "taken aback" based on what he/she has heard, but has never seen the correctly written form, it is quite possible the person would write "take back". 'a' in 'aback' is an unaccented syllable, easily dropped in fast speech.

    How things sound to people does affect how they write them. For example: one person wrote "chest of drawers" as "chester draws". Another example: "I'm going to get you." becomes "I'm gonna getcha."

    Orange Blossom
     

    Yeoldescribe

    New Member
    English
    Well said, "...taken back in colloquial terms." In my growing up years of the 1940's & 50's "taken back" was standard. I guess the contraction - taken 'back. In the past
    few years, especially FOX News, "aback" is all that's heard. The new, corrected version is sort-of difficult to accept. Taken Back has nicer flow and just sounds good.
    Wish announcers would forget about the so-called correct version.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Just to clarify meanings, 'to take back' means 'to obtain again' or 'recover'. ('He took back his stolen watch.')
    'To take aback' means 'to disconcert', 'to throw off balance'. ('He was taken aback by the news.')
    In the past few years, especially FOX News, "aback" is all that's heard. The new, corrected version is sort-of difficult to accept.
    Even if it's on Fox News, 'taken aback' is really the old form for the meaning 'disconcerted'.
    'Aback' is not an alteration, or a new term, but a traditional English word.
     
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