catch cold(redirected from caught them cold)
catch (one) cold
1. To surprise someone with something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is always used between "catch" and "cold." News that I'd gotten the promotion really caught me cold—I didn't think they were seriously considering me for it!
2. To surprise an opponent in order to gain an advantage. If we can catch their defense cold, we should be able to tie the game.
To become ill with the common cold. I hate going to the doctor's office—I always seem to catch cold after being around all those germs!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
catch coldand take cold
Fig. to contract a cold (a common respiratory infection.) (Use with catch is more frequent.) Please close the window, or we'll all catch cold. I take cold every year at this time.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, catch one's death (of cold). Become infected with a cold virus, contract a bad cold, as in Jane manages to catch cold on every important business trip, or Put on your hat or you'll catch your death. The first term originally (16th century) meant becoming chilled by exposure to cold and took on its present meaning in the late 1600s. The hyperbolic variant, often shortened, is somewhat newer.
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.