How to say “taken aback” in Italian

Meaning of the English idiom

“Taken aback” is used as a synonym for “shocked” or “surprised”.


How do you say taken aback in Italian?

You translate taken aback in Italian as preso alla sprovvista.

Preso alla sprovvista
Taken aback

The idiom can be broken down as follows:

  • preso (past participle of prendere, “to take”)
  • alla (a + la)
  • sprovvista (untranslatable, sth like “unprepared”)

So (essere) preso alla sprovvista literally means “(to be) taken unprepared”.

If we had to translate this English idiom literally, we would say preso all’indietro, but that makes no sense to an Italian native speaker!

kids watching the lockness monster

This idiom can also be used to translate “to catch unaware” or “to catch off guard”.

For example, you could say…

La sua generosa offerta di lavoro mi ha preso alla sprovvista.
His generous job offer took me aback.

Il temporale ci ha preso completamente alla sprovvista. Siamo bagnati fradici!
The storm caught us completely off guard. We are soaking wet!

A Paola piace prendere le persone alla sprovvista.
Paola likes to take people aback.


What next?

Now that you’ve seen how to say taken aback in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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