at a distance

at a distance

1. From a far way away. At a distance, it doesn't look like much. But when you get closer, it's quite spectacular.
2. With a level of separation or detachment. It was so nice to meet the artist in person after admiring his work at a distance for so long.
See also: distance

at/from a ˈdistance

from a place or time that is not near; from far away: She had loved him at a distance for years.
See also: distance
References in classic literature ?
To the untrained eye the collection of delicate originals made by the human finger on the glass plates looked about alike; but when enlarged ten times they resembled the markings of a block of wood that has been sawed across the grain, and the dullest eye could detect at a glance, and at a distance of many feet, that no two of the patterns were alike.
Even in the moonlight and at a distance Tarzan saw that the lion was huge; that it was indeed another of the black-maned monsters similar to Numa of the pit.
By morning's cheerful glow, but oftener still by evening's gentle light, the child, with a respect for the short and happy intercourse of these two sisters which forbade her to approach and say a thankful word, although she yearned to do so, followed them at a distance in their walks and rambles, stopping when they stopped, sitting on the grass when they sat down, rising when they went on, and feeling it a companionship and delight to be so near them.
A wrote, "Devoid of passion, either for a thing, a person, or an idea, incapable or unwilling to reveal himself under any circumstances, he [A's father] had managed to keep himself at a distance from life, to avoid immersion in the quick of things.
The second choice provides physics with what Einstein called "spooky" actions at a distance.