be caught flat-footed

be caught flat-footed

To be startled or be caught unawares and/or while unprepared. The thieves were caught flat-footed by the security guard.
See also: caught

be caught flat-footed

If someone is caught flat-footed ,they are put at a disadvantage when something happens which they do not expect. `The people around were caught flat-footed,' said Mr. Enko. `Nobody expected floods of such magnitude.' Note: You can also say that an event or action leaves someone flat-footed. Pentland had agreed to buy Adidas but pulled out of the deal suddenly, leaving the French millionaire flat-footed.
See also: caught
References in periodicals archive ?
pharmaceutical industry could be caught flat-footed.
Otherwise, you'll be caught flat-footed if OSHA shows up at your company to perform a SEP inspection.
Let us summarize: In early 1993, administration honchos fired the entire White House Travel Office for various billing shenanigans - only to be caught flat-footed when it was discovered that the office would be taken over by a private company with ties to Clinton buddy Harry Thomason.