be caught on the wrong foot

be caught on the wrong foot

If you are caught on the wrong foot, something happens quickly and unexpectedly, and you are not ready for it. The government has been caught on the wrong foot by the recent change of public mood. Note: The verb wrong-foot is also used to mean to surprise someone and put them in a difficult situation. Again and again, European and UN diplomacy has been wrong-footed by events in this region. Compare with get off on the wrong foot. Compare with start off on the right foot.
See also: caught, foot, on, wrong