Definition of catch someone napping in US English:

catch someone napping

phrase

British
informal
  • (of a person, action, or event) find someone off guard and unprepared to respond.

    ‘he caught the runner napping off second base and tagged him out’
    • ‘The burghers of the town had been caught napping during the committee stages of the Bill.’
    • ‘Eventually, Manchester took a 2-1 lead before half time with an opportunist goal when a quickly-take free hit just inside the 22 caught Kendal napping for a second time.’
    • ‘Several times throughout the first half, they were caught napping as the ball was played over, through and round them.’
    • ‘Then 11 minutes from time City were caught napping again.’
    • ‘He said: ‘I was caught napping that morning, the top three competitors stole a huge advantage over me which prevented me from challenging for a top three position.’’
    • ‘Look, the administration said months ago that we were caught napping in this area.’
    • ‘Indeed, the inclusion of these fine players in the opposition ranks strengthened the Colne side and it was they who nearly opened the scoring as Ilkley were caught napping.’
    • ‘From the restart, Windermere were caught napping, however, when poor tackling let Workington drive up the centre of the park.’
    • ‘With Celtic pushing forward for the equaliser they were caught napping three minutes from time, to give the visitors a some what fortunate win.’
    • ‘I mean, you open the newspaper today and meningitis is across it many times and so we have been caught napping in terms of being arrogant enough to think that we've conquered infectious disease.’
    catch off guard, catch unawares, take by surprise, surprise, catch in an unguarded moment, catch out, find unprepared
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