caught flat-footed

catch (someone) flat-footed

To startle someone; to come upon someone unawares and/or when they are 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

caught flat-footed

Caught unprepared, taken by surprise, as in The reporter's question caught the President flat-footed. This usage comes from one or another sport in which a player should be on his or her toes, ready to act. [c. 1900]
See also: caught
References in periodicals archive ?
However, the visitors fell behind on 51 minutes when they were caught flat-footed by a through ball, and Chris Henderson sneaked in and slotted the ball past Elliott.
The move came after guards of AY76 security agency of power firm Minergy Power Corporation in Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental were caught flat-footed, offering no resistance when suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels stormed the power plant last August 19.
Albayalde said five guards of the AY 76 Security Agency were 'caught flat-footed, and did not offer any resistance' when NPA rebels stormed the facility and disarmed them of five AK-47 assault rifles and several rounds of ammunition, and looted the power plant of radio transceiver sets, and other equipment.
Perpetual Help was caught flat-footed in the first 20 minutes as Warren Bonifacio and Cyril Gonzales scored the bulk of Mapua's uprising that pegged the count at 45-39 before the break.
NU banked on championship experience after being in the finals for seven straight years, but coach Dante Alinsunurin admitted they were caught flat-footed in the opening set.
Kenya has always been caught flat-footed in terms of election planning and preparedness.
7 YERRY MINA Caught flat-footed a number of times in the first half but he Colombian international really grew into the game.
Co-star Kate Parr, as Stephanie Mangano, was a good mover but was caught flat-footed at times and not all her lifts were landed as elegantly as they might have been.
While nobody likes getting caught flat-footed, I hate it.
Defensively, Everton had been solid enough but were sloppy for Porto's goal - first losing the ball in midfield before being caught flat-footed - which was a blot on an otherwise encouraging pre-season copybook.
Squeezed out at the start, he was caught flat-footed when the pace was raised, but the penny dropped late and he saw it out well to go down by just a length.
He stressed that the Comelec does not want to be caught flat-footed if the election is not re-scheduled.
We must prepare for these threats and not be caught flat-footed," said Sen.
John O'Shea was caught flat-footed by an Albert Adomah cross, Jason Steele was lured towards it and when Scott Hogan flicked it on, Grabban found the net.