catch (one) flat-footed

(redirected from caught them 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
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References in periodicals archive ?
The German works team appeared to struggle through practice sessions, after changes in the Pirelli tyres caught them flat-footed. The Italian tyre manufacturers announced a new rubber mix for the rest of the season, as a result of multiple tyre failures at Silverstone earlier this season.
A 22 per cent leap by Foseco's shares caught them flat-footed. They had had a chat with Foseco, but saw no reason for a little thing like that to interfere with their public relations junket.
The on form frontman caught them flat-footed and coolly slotted past Todd.
Crewe caught them flat-footed for both their goals but with Akinbiyi and sub Hutchings hitting back with goals - both from deep crosses by Tinnion on the left - City were way out in front at the end.