deer in the headlights


Also found in: Acronyms.

deer in the headlights

Someone caught in a state of paralyzing surprise, fear, or bewilderment. Likened to the tendency of deer to freeze in place in front of an oncoming vehicle. Often used in the phrase "like a deer in the headlights." Mary turned into a deer in the headlights when she forgot her lines in the middle of the play. He froze like a deer in the headlights when I caught him taking money out of the register. When she asked me to marry her, I could only stand there like a deer in the headlights.
See also: deer, headlight
References in periodicals archive ?
Perspiration dotted his forward, anguish covered his face, but his eyes remained as wide as a deer in the headlights on nearby Interstate 79.
There's your brother on the other end going for it, doing his Mick Jagger, and you are like a deer in the headlights.
While you may be tempted to use your high-beam headlights when a deer is directly in front of you, they could cause a deer to stop in its tracks rather than running to safety just "like a deer in the headlights.
Back then, Davis was like the proverbial deer in the headlights, paralyzed by blackouts that started in San Diego and within months darkened most of the state.
Small businesses no longer need to feel like a deer in the headlights when considering constructing or updating their Web sites.