wrong-foot

World English Dictionary
wrong-foot
 
vb
1.  sport to play a shot in such a way as to cause (one's opponent) to be off balance
2.  to take by surprise so as to place in an embarrassing or disadvantageous situation

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

wrong-foot

Deceive by moving differently from what one expects, as in He won quite a few points by wrong-footing his opponent. This expression comes from tennis, where it means to hit the ball in the direction the opponent is moving away from. It was transferred to other applications in the late 1900s, as in Susan Larson's review of a concert: "Music wrong-footing and deceiving the ear" (Boston Globe, November 1, 1994).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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