take by surprise

[take by surprise] {v. phr.} 1. To appear in front of someonesuddenly or to suddenly discover him before he discovers you; comebefore (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 tookher 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 thegovernment, it took us all by surprise.