take by surprise

take by surprise  {v. phr.}
1. To appear in front of someone suddenly or to suddenly discover him before he discovers you; come before (someone) is ready; appear before (someone) unexpectedly.
The policeman took the burglar by surprise as he opened the window.
When Mrs. Green's dinner guests came half an hour early, they took her by surprise.
2. To fill with surprise or amazement; astonish.
Ellen was taken by surprise when the birthday cake was brought in.
When our teacher quit in the middle of the year to work for the government, it took us all by surprise.
Categories: {v. phr.}