at someone's elbow

at someone's elbow

Immediately beside someone, close by, as in The apprentice was constantly at the master's elbow. Why this idiom focuses on the elbow rather than the arm, shoulder, or some other body part is not known. Moreover, it can mean either that someone is so nearby as to constitute a nuisance or in order to readily provide assistance. Either can be meant in the example above. [Mid-1500s]
See also: elbow
References in periodicals archive ?
Previously, Jecko had been the loiterer, the hanger-on in the crowd, forever at someone's elbow and never in receipt of any favour, while Benja was the very opposite.