What Does Catch at a Bad Time Mean?

To Catch Someone at a Bad Time Meaning

Definition: To see or speak to someone at an inopportune moment for that person.

The phrase to catch someone at a bad time means to interrupt someone at a time when it is not convenient for him or her. This can mean to interrupt an important event or to attempt to speak with someone when he or she is going through a bad time emotionally.

Ways to Use To Catch Someone at a Bad Time

There are several idiomatic meanings of the English word catch. These meanings will vary based on the specific phrase in which they are used as well as the context.

meaning of catch at a bad timeIn the case of this phrase, to catch someone means to attempt to communicate or meet with the person. To catch someone at a bad time may mean that someone has physically or verbally interrupted an important activity.

To catch someone at a bad time may also mean that someone has attempted to speak to or meet with him or her during a challenging emotional period.

Examples of To Catch Someone at a Bad Time

define caught at a bad time'This phrase can be used in two contexts: physical/verbal and emotional. A worker might catch his boss at a bad time if he bursts into her office unannounced and interrupts an important phone call.

The following example conversation between two sisters illustrates the correct use of this phrase in an emotional context.

Brianna: I was just wondering if I could borrow some money. Steven took a pay cut at work, and we’re struggling to pay our bills this month.

Judy: I’m sorry; I can’t help you. Trent left me and drained our savings account. You caught me at a bad time.

More Examples

  • “However, the waiter did not come for 10 minutes, and when he did, loudly stated that we caught him at a bad time for him.” –Washington Post
  • The hefty lefty made news earlier in the season when he had to be restrained in an early-morning melee outside a Toronto nightclub. Sabathia said at the time that the heckler “caught him at a bad time.” –NY Post


The English phrase to catch someone at a bad time means to attempt to speak to someone while he or she is busy or otherwise inconvenienced.