catch (someone) flat-footed

(redirected from caught him 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

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
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.