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 ?
John O'Shea was caught flat-footed by an Albert Adomah cross, Jason Steele was lured towards it and when Scott Hogan flicked it on, Grabban found the net.
He is being a little harsh on himself by suggesting he made a lot of mistakes, but he was caught flat-footed and ball-watching as Ciaran Clark's pass sent Jacob Murphy through to pull it back to 2-1.
8 STARMAN: SOL BAMBA Caught flat-footed by Hooper's clever movement for the goal.
After missing the break and racing towards the back of the field she made reasonable headway to be in touch towards the end of the back straight, but when the pace quickened again she was caught flat-footed.
The natives who posed as women church-goers and who were clad in skirts overthrew the American troops who were caught flat-footed while sipping their breakfast coffee in a nearby camp to the church.
He was caught flat-footed," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
EVERTON STEKELENBURG 6 Didn't have too much to deal with, no chance for Pedro's strike HOLGATE 7 Impressive display from the youngster who stuck at his task JAGIELKA 6 Caught flat-footed for Pedro's goal but showed his experience WILLIAMS 7 Did as well against Costa as anyone this season BAINES 6 No easy job against Chelsea's fluid attack, but was never in trouble DAVIES 8 Fine performance that belied his age.
We don't want to get caught flat-footed when they (SEAG Federation officials) ask for the sports that will see action here,' said Romasanta.
The game did not get off to the best of starts as, after an impressive 15-phase opening assault, the County conceded a penalty and were caught flat-footed by a stunning counterattack.
We learned a lot and we will not be caught flat-footed again.
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.
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.
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.
Since the start of the Arab Spring in early 2011, Chinese diplomacy has been caught flat-footed, torn between Beijing's stated aim of 'noninterference' and the rising tide of public discontent in the region," reports Keith B.