throw a curve


Surprise or outwit someone, as in They threw me a curve when they said that our department would be combined with yours. This colloquial term comes from baseball, where a pitcher tries to fool the batter by using a curve ball, which is thrown with sufficient spin to make it veer from its expected path. The term was transferred to other kinds of surprise, not necessarily unpleasant, in the mid-1900s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.