catch (one) flat-footed

(redirected from caught him 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. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
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 flat-footed

take 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.
See also: catch, someone
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

flat-footed, to be caught/catch

To surprise/be surprised; to be caught unprepared. This antonym to being on one’s toes is believed by some to come from baseball terminology (it was so defined in the linguistics journal American Speech in 1912). However, other authorities believe it comes from horse-racing, where it is said of a horse whose jockey is unprepared to start a race.
See also: catch, caught, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
James McFadden got little change out of him apart from one neat turn in the first half that caught him flat-footed. Joined the attack for set-pieces and had a strong header saved by Craig Gordon before the break.
I caught him flat-footed when I sensed Flagship Uberalles closing because I asked him to quicken in the last few strides before the fence and we paid the penalty.
He said: "Last year it was lack of concentration, but I partly blame myself because I caught him flat-footed when I asked him to take off.
Kinane was cruising on Hawk Wing but that sudden injection of pace caught him flat-footed.
There was a finality about last night that was not there when Paul Gascoigne caught him flat-footed with that ambitious FA Cup semi-final free kick at Wembley in 1991.