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

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 off guard

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
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," Paxton wrote.
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.
Nothing should catch us off guard in terms of the conditions here.
There are no easy sides in the Six Nations and they would like nothing more than to catch us off guard in a fortnight.
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.
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.
April showers bring May flowers, but those showers can also catch us off guard and lead to potential problems.