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.
Words nearby catch napping
How to use catch napping in a sentence
They all immediately dashed out to their car to catch the bad guys.
“The government just wanted to catch the big fish [in the Juarez cartel] and they ignored everything in between,” Lozoya said.
From a lyrical standpoint, there are precious few that can catch Kendrick.The 14 Best Songs of 2014: Bobby Shmurda, Future Islands, Drake, and More|Marlow Stern|December 31, 2014|DAILY BEAST
With Rick, I think the culture just lags behind great artists much of the time, and it takes time for it to catch up.Coffee Talk with Ethan Hawke: On ‘Boyhood,’ Jennifer Lawrence, and Bill Clinton’s Urinal Exchange|Marlow Stern|December 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Shockingly, this last couplet made it into the 1953 film version; someone was napping over at MGM.
While you were admiring the long roll of the wave, a sudden spray would be dashed over you, and make you catch your breath!Music-Study in Germany|Amy Fay
If I could catch Laura's eye—but I suppose it would hardly be decent to go just yet.
Then Squinty would toss the apple up in the air, off his nose, and catch it as it came down.Squinty the Comical Pig|Richard Barnum
But what if I catch the fish by using a hired boat and a hired net, or by buying worms as bait from some one who has dug them?The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice|Stephen Leacock
We nearly played our horses out galloping around looking for you—after we'd gone a mile or so, and you didn't catch up.Raw Gold|Bertrand W. Sinclair