be caught napping

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be caught napping

To have one's inattention (or, sometimes, literal sleep) exploited or capitalized on by someone else. The other team scored because our defense was caught napping.
See also: caught, nap

be caught napping

If someone is caught napping, they suffer a disadvantage by not being prepared for something when it happens. The security services were clearly caught napping and their response was therefore inadequate. European firms have been caught napping. As a result, they barely control one-tenth of the world market. Note: `Napping' means the same as sleeping or dozing.
See also: caught, nap