deer in the headlights

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the image of a deer caught in a car’s headlights – widely opened eyes, lack of motor reactions, etc.

Noun[edit]

deer in the headlights (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) A mental state of high arousal caused by anxiety fear, panic, surprise and/or confusion, or substance abuse.
  2. (idiomatic) A stunned or glazed expression.