take by surprise(redirected from by surprise)
take (one) by surprise
To encounter or otherwise engage something or someone who is not prepared or on guard; to shock or startle someone or something by one's sudden appearance or action. You took me by surprise when you showed up at my office with flowers this afternoon! Our soldiers descended upon the enemy encampment just before daybreak and took their troops entirely by surprise.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
take someone or something by surprise
to startle or surprise someone or something. She bolted into the room and took them by surprise. I took the little bird by surprise, and it flew away.
take someone by surpriseand catch someone by surprise
to startle someone; to surprise someone with something unexpected. Oh! You took me by surprise because I didn't hear you come in. Bill caught his mother by surprise by coming to the door and pretending to be selling something.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
take by surprise
Encounter unexpectedly, as in The rainshower took us by surprise. [Late 1600s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.