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1. In soccer, to make a shot that makes a defender or goal keeper stumble or lose balance. The midfielder scored the critical tie-breaking goal just minutes before the end of regular time, wrong-footing the keeper with an incredible shot to the top corner of the net.
2. By extension, to maneuver in such a way as to catch someone off guard, especially so as to put them in an awkward or disadvantageous position. The quick-witted journalist wrong-footed the politician several times during the interview. I'm not trying to wrong-foot the board of directors, I'm just trying to do what I think is morally correct.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Deceive by moving differently from what one expects, as in He won quite a few points by wrong-footing his opponent. This expression comes from tennis, where it means to hit the ball in the direction the opponent is moving away from. It was transferred to other applications in the late 1900s, as in Susan Larson's review of a concert: "Music wrong-footing and deceiving the ear" ( Boston Globe, November 1, 1994).
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.