What Does To Catch One with One’s Pants Down Mean?

Catch With Pants Down Meaning

Definition: To encounter someone while they are doing something that is supposed to remain hidden; to see someone with one’s pants around one’s ankles.

This phrase is slightly different from some English idioms in that it can be used in both figurative and literal contexts.

To figuratively catch one with one’s pants down means to interrupt one while he or she is doing something he or she did not want anyone to see.

Its literal meaning, of course, is to encounter one while one has one’s pants around one’s ankles.

Ways to Use To Catch One with One’s Pants Down

define with pants downThere are two ways to use this phrase: a figurative meaning and a literal meaning.

The word catch in this idiom means to encounter someone. Other English idioms use the word catch in the same manner.

Catch does have several idiomatic meanings in English, which vary based on context.

Examples of To Catch One with One’s Pants Down

meaning of catch with pants downThe following conversation illustrates the use of this phrase in a literal context.

Allie: Did you hear that Sharon’s husband cheated on her?

Cindy: No! Really? How did she find out?

Allie: She came home from work one day and caught him with his pants down.

This sample conversation between two coworkers shows how this phrase is used figuratively.

Bea: Have you heard the boss might get suspended?

Rob: Really? What happened?

Bea: He skipped an important business meeting to watch Netflix in his office. Trudy walked in on him watching The Walking Dead. Talk about getting caught with your pants down.

More Examples

  • The charming Brit had some stammering explaining to do when he was caught with his pants down – literally – with prostitute Divine Brown. –Chicago Tribune
  • “Once again we are treated to the spectacle of a politician being hoisted by his own petard. This time the action takes place south of the border in the State of New York where Governor Eliot Spitzer has been caught with his pants down.” –LA Times


The English phrase to catch one with one’s pants down means to interrupt someone while one is doing something that was intended to remain private. It can also be used in a literal context.