stop someone in their 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.
stop (someone or something) (dead) in its/(one's) tracks
To make someone or something stop or come to a complete halt immediately or very suddenly. Hearing the gunshot in the distance stopped us both dead in our tracks. Boy, Samantha could stop you in her tracks with her smile!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
stop someone in their tracksor
stop someone dead in their tracks
COMMON If something stops you in your tracks or stops you dead in your tracks, it makes you suddenly stop what you are doing because you are very surprised or frightened. Seen across wide fields of corn this magnificent church cannot fail to stop you in your tracks. Note: You can also say that someone stops in their tracks or stops dead in their tracks. They stopped in their tracks and stared at him in amazement. They turned round. And then they stopped dead in their tracks, their hearts beating fast. Somebody was behind them.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012