stop dead in tracks

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stop (dead) in (one's) tracks

1. To stop at the exact spot where one is and hold motionless. We stopped dead in our tracks when we heard rustling in the bushes just off the trail. I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a police officer standing by my desk.
2. To cause one to stop in such a manner. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "stop" and "(dead) in." The sound of Samantha's angelic voice on the radio stopped me dead in my tracks. The kids were running along the lawn when the sound of a loud motorcycle stopped them in their tracks.
3. To cease progressing or performing completely and very abruptly. The talk show host, who was right in the middle of his opening monologue, stopped dead in his tracks when an audience member stumbled out onto the stage. The economy stopped dead in its tracks as a result of the global pandemic.
4. To cause someone or something to halt progression in such a way. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "stop" and "(dead) in." The boss stopped everyone in the office in their tracks so that we could all focus on an important new project. This injunction from the courts will stop construction of the contentious hotel dead in its tracks.
See also: stop, track
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

stop dead in one's tracks

Fig. to stop completely still suddenly because of fear, a noise, etc. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard the scream. The deer stopped dead in its tracks when it heard the hunter step on a fallen branch.
See also: dead, stop, track
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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