like a rabbit (caught) in (the) headlights

(redirected from like a rabbit in headlights)

like a rabbit (caught) in (the) headlights

In a state or manner of paralyzing surprise, fear, or bewilderment. Likened to the tendency of rabbits to freeze in place in front of an oncoming vehicle. When she asked me to marry her, I could only stand there like a rabbit caught in headlights. He froze like a rabbit in the headlights when I caught him taking money out of the register.
See also: headlight, like, rabbit
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

like a rabbit caught in the headlights

or

like a deer caught in the headlights

If someone is like a rabbit caught in the headlights or like a deer caught in the headlights, they are so frightened or nervous that they do not know what to do. He just sat there, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Diane fixes me with her cold, blue eyes: I am the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Note: This expression is very variable. For example, you can just say that someone is caught or frozen in the headlights. He was caught in the headlights as he attempted to answer a string of questions about his relationship. The best thing for a writer caught in the headlights of unexpected celebrity is simply to keep writing and publishing. Note: Animals such as rabbits or deer sometimes remain still because they do not know which way to run when the light from a vehicle's headlights shines on them at night.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
"When we found him he was like a rabbit in headlights and very confused." The property owner, a frail 79-year-old, was arrested but later released.
Suffice it to say, I have been behind other drivers who are so confused by this new junction that they are frozen like a rabbit in headlights, even though they should actually be proceeding on to the island.
He didn't know the answer, like a rabbit in headlights.
Croft took over from Haskell barely 20 minutes into the action against France, and he recalled: "I was a bit on edge for the first ten minutes, like a rabbit in headlights, but it was brilliant to be a part of.
Croft took over from Haskell barely 20 minutes into the action against France, and he recalled: "I was a bit on edge for the first 10 minutes, like a rabbit in headlights, but it was brilliant to be a part of.
Mr Salmond accused Mr Brown of "selling his Scottish soul" to be the next PM - and said First Minister Mr McConnell was "caught like a rabbit in headlights".