catch someone cold

catch (one) cold

1. To surprise someone with something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is always used between "catch" and "cold." News that I'd gotten the promotion really caught me cold—I didn't think they were seriously considering me for it!
2. To surprise an opponent in order to gain an advantage. If we can catch their defense cold, we should be able to tie the game.
See also: catch, cold

catch someone cold

mainly BRITISH, JOURNALISM
In sport, if you catch someone cold, you defeat them or gain points by attacking when they are not prepared. Northern, seeking their eighth successive League win, were caught cold by Castleford. Dewsbury managed a 29-14 win after Barrow had caught them cold to lead 8-4 at the interval.
See also: catch, cold, someone
References in periodicals archive ?
And they saw Roscommon struggle to put away a New York side who are going to catch someone cold some day soon in the championship.