deer-in-headlights

deer-in-headlights

(Used before a noun.) Of a paralyzed manner or appearance, as due to surprise, fear, shock, or bewilderment. Likened to the tendency of deer to freeze in place in front of an oncoming vehicle. He had this dopey deer-in-headlights look on his face when I asked him where the money had gone.
References in periodicals archive ?
I wound up making the play, but it's just, when you see the bat, the first thing you do is get the deer-in-headlights look," Young said.
His quick wit and her deer-in-headlights weirdness always drew attention, and while most people probably just viewed their antics as entertaining, the film tries to make the case that Nixon and company saw the couple as a serious threat.
Elise Ray had that frozen, deer-in-headlights stare.