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IELTS Idiom of the Day: Caught off Guard - Meaning, History & Uses

Learn the meaning, history, and modern uses of the IELTS idiom "caught off guard". Discover how this idiom is used today!
Meaning
The idiom "caught off guard" means to be surprised or unprepared for something unexpected. It conjures an image of being caught without your defenses ready.
Origin
This idiom likely originated in the 1500s from medieval combat terminology. Being "off guard" meant a soldier had their shield or weapon lowered, leaving them vulnerable.
Change in Uses
By the 1700s, "caught off guard" was being used figuratively to refer to being unprepared in non-combat situations. It remains a common idiom today.
Example 1
You might be caught off guard by a surprise party or an unexpected question in a job/IELTS interview. The idiom conveys momentary surprise and unreadiness.
Example 2
Politicians are often caught off guard by scandal revelations or sudden policy changes by opponents. They can appear flustered when off guard.
Next time you're caught off guard, don't panic! Take a moment to regain your composure. With poise, you can handle any unforeseen situation.
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