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catch napping

Surprise, take unawares. This term is often used in the passive, as in The United States was really caught napping the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor . It originated in the mid-1500s as to be taken napping also see under: off guard
The American HeritageĀ® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright Ā© 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Historical Examples
  • But he was one of those wary old watch-dogs who are hard to catch napping.

    The Chouans Honore de Balzac

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