Out Of Left Field


When something comes out of left field that means it was surprising or unexpected.

Example: Cole has put on weight over the years, so he wants to go on a diet. “I’m gonna eat healthier starting right now!” he exclaimed. However, his determination was quickly put to the test when out of left field his wife came home with a box full of donuts. (In other words, the donuts were an unexpected surprise.)

1. Out of the blue
2. Out of nowhere
3. Took him/her by surprise

A baseball pitcher throwing out of left field.

The Origin Of “Out Of Left Field”

The phrase out of left field might originate from baseball. How so? Let us see why:

In baseball, there are three outfield positions—the right fielder, the center fielder, and the left fielder. When a ball is hit hard enough, the outfielders job is to catch it, or if the ball touches the ground, they retrieve the ball and throw it back to the infield.

The saying out of left field must obviously be referring to the left side of a baseball field, and the thing coming “out” of it would be the baseball. But why is this phrase specifically about the left field, why not the others? Well, concerning that, there’s one explanation that suggests the following:

Imagine this scenario—A batter hits the ball and there is a base runner sprinting towards home plate. In this situation, the base runner is facing away from the left field. So if the left fielder scoops up the ball and throws it to the baseman on home plate, the runner would be unable to see it coming, thus it would catch him by surprise.

Example Sentences

  • I was enjoying a nice walk on a clear summer day, that is, until a dog came out of left field and started barking at me.

Similar Examples:

  • Tom was exercising on the treadmill when out of the blue his leg got a cramp, so he had to stop.
  • I was eating dinner when out of nowhere I heard a loud noise outside.

Tip: This is not the only expression on here! We have a list of English phrases starting with “O” that you can scroll through. For our full list of sayings, tap the menu up top.