catch someone flat-footed
catch (one) flat-footed
To startle one; to come upon one unawares or unprepared. Usually used in the past tense. The security guard caught the thieves flat-footed. That essay question in the exam caught me completely flat-footed.
See also: catch
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
catch someone flat-footedtake someone by surprise or at a disadvantage. informal
The opposite of flat-footed in this metaphorical sense is on your toes (see toe).
1998 Field Farming and forestry were both caught flat-footed when fashion changed.
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