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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:
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Nearby words for catch napping
catch a rail
catch a tartar
catch and release
catch as catch can
catch in the act
catch off guard
catch one's breath
catch one's death
catch one's death (of cold)
catch sight of
catch some rays
catch some z's
catch someone flat-footed
catch someone somewhere, doing something, etc
catch someone with someone's hand in the till
catch someone with their pants down
catch someone's eye
catch the drift
catch the wave
catch up with
catch you later
catch you on the flip side