caught flat-footed

catch (someone) flat-footed

To startle someone; to come upon someone unawares and/or when they are unprepared. Usually used in the past tense. The security guard caught the thieves flat-footed. That essay question in the exam caught me completely flat-footed.
See also: catch

caught flat-footed

Caught unprepared, taken by surprise, as in The reporter's question caught the President flat-footed. This usage comes from one or another sport in which a player should be on his or her toes, ready to act. [c. 1900]
See also: caught
References in periodicals archive ?
Granada's offside trap frustrated Barca in the early stages, but they were caught flat-footed for the opener on 25 minutes as Luis Suarez was played in by Jordi Alba and the Uruguayan's mishit shot fell perfectly off the unfortunate Cala for Rakitic to slam home.
The lads don't take anything for granted these days, the competition is getting tighter and tighter every year and I don't think we'll be caught flat-footed.
He saw Dean Farley coming towards him but his bodyguards were caught flat-footed and only bundled the man to the ground after he collided with the Prime Minister.
Rovers were caught flat-footed from two corners as they surrendered in front of David Flitcroft's high-flying side.
The new program provides partners with strong new fiscal incentives backed up with a complete range of assessment services, tools, training and funding all designed to ensure customers are not caught flat-footed when Windows 2003 support is ended.
Boro's back three were wobbling under the strain of the constant Wednesday pressure and they were caught flat-footed when Wednesday took the lead.
David Scullion levelled for the home side 11 minutes later when he reacted quickest to Aaron Boyd's cross with the Warrenpoint defence caught flat-footed.
He'll be conscious not to be caught flat-footed and will refuse to play into Murat's hands by having a 'tear up.
Against the run of play, the mid-Wales hosts went in front on 19 minutes when Flint''s Matty Harvey was caught flat-footed down the left and Martyn Ziemann was left clear to drive low past the advancing keeper Mike Jones.
Our sources say that while they were clearly having problems, Tom had no idea this was coming and his entire team was caught flat-footed by the filing.
p ny t Visiting keeper Dean Delany was caught flat-footed as midfielder Bolger (inset) sent a tame-looking header from Ger O'Brien's delivery from the right looping into the net.
Neath looked dangerous though, and after 27 minutes City centre-half James Brewerton was caught flat-footed, his attempted touch back to Idzi being latched upon by Luke Bowen who fired the visitors in front.
11 attacks, American diplomats were not caught flat-footed by the tirade.
Cagey Lilly (7-1), who was caught flat-footed at the traps, cashed in on a trouble-strewn first half of the race to preserve her unbeaten run in the competition in the first semi-final.
It will be covered for sure - she's enough of a curiosity and people want to be not caught flat-footed if she becomes significant for some reason," Kalyani Chadha, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, said.