catch (one) off guard

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catch (one) off guard

To engage, take advantage of, or seize upon one when one is not especially careful, vigilant, or prepared for danger or surprises. He's got a lot of tricky moves, so make sure he doesn't catch you off guard! The soldiers moved in quickly, hoping to catch the enemy troops off guard. I think I caught him off guard when I told him I was resigning.
See also: catch, guard, off
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

catch someone off guard

 and catch one off (one's) guard
Fig. to catch a person at a time of carelessness. Tom caught Ann off guard and frightened her. She caught me off my guard, and my hesitation told her I was lying.
See also: catch, guard, off

catch one off

(one's) guard Go to catch someone off guard.
See also: catch, off, one
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

catch off guard

see under off guard.
See also: catch, guard, off
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.

catch someone off guard

or

take someone off guard

COMMON If something catches you off guard or takes you off guard, it happens unexpectedly and you are not prepared to respond to it. Note: Your guard is the position that you get in when you are ready to defend yourself in sports such as boxing or fencing. I didn't know how to answer him. The question caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting him to pass the ball to me and it took me off guard.
See also: catch, guard, off, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

catch somebody off (their) ˈguard

happen when somebody is not prepared: The question caught him off his guard and he couldn’t answer.Businesses were caught off guard by the sudden rise in interest rates.
See also: catch, guard, off, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Especially when it happens in ways that catch us off guard. Happy first day of school for my not-so-little guys.
The big danger in this scam is that a phone call can catch us off guard, increasing the likelihood that we might answer questions while our minds are still on something else.
Conflict can catch us off guard, poke us in ways we were not expecting or be overwhelming.
While yesterday's news coverage may have come as a surprise to many of you, I can assure you that it did not catch us off guard. Our silence was purposeful and driven by respect for the law as the information was under judicial seal until noon yesterday.
At the UNFCCC's meeting in Durban, all countries - developed, emerging, with or without natural resources - must join together to ensure that when the other crises currently roiling the world are finally resolved, the biggest crisis of all does not catch us off guard.
Awareness of the ones that catch us off guard is essential, too.
"Mother Nature is like a beloved aunt who occasionally gets tipsy and does something outrageous to catch us off guard"
"Mother Nature is like a beloved aunt who occasionally gets slightly tipsy and does something outrageous to catch us off guard" - Mark Hedges, editor of Country Life, on current climate patterns.
"Nothing should catch us off guard in terms of the conditions here."
We periodically encounter unexpected and unpleasant circumstances in life that catch us off guard: a flat tire, a broken tooth, flooding in our home during a rain, a death in the family.
There are no easy sides in the Six Nations and they would like nothing more than to catch us off guard in a fortnight." Despite his reluctance to discuss a possible Grand Slam, O'Driscoll did acknowledge that the win over France, the third of his fledgling career, will act as a landmark for this Irish side.
After a century of taking the rationalist, secular world for granted -- that is, of assuming that what we see is what we get -- any sight of more, of a marvelous beyond the material realm, is bound to catch us off guard. We're going about our daily business -- fixing breakfast or sitting in a committee meeting or shopping at the mall -- when: boom!
That way it's a lot less likely they'll catch us off guard or knock us to the ground.
Parents themselves, however, have contributed to the widespread ignorance of Catholic doctrine and the fading of the Catholic mind by their failure to recognize or make use of what O'Brien calls the "teachable moment", those times when children's questions catch us off guard. We parents, says O'Brien, have a"tendency to shun responsibility of catechesis to the trained expert," believing that formation happens if the school offers a catechetical program.