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take someone/something by surprise

Definition of take someone/something by surprise in English:

1Attack or capture someone or something unexpectedly.
Example sentences
  • The security officials were taken by surprise by the attack.
  • The attack took the troops by surprise, but was no more successful than any of the previous offensives.
  • Some have accused Franklin D. Roosevelt of deliberately permitting the attack to take his forces by surprise so as to bring the United States into the war.
1.1 (take someone by surprise) Happen when someone is not prepared or is expecting something different: the question took David by surprise
More example sentences
  • My five-year-old son's question took me by surprise.
  • The question took Rebecca by surprise, and she was ashamed to admit the truth.
  • The question took Scott by surprise and he hesitated a moment before answering.
See parent entry: surprise

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