hold (one) at arm's length

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hold (one) at arm's length

To keep one at a certain distance away, either physical or figurative, in order to afford a level of safety or security or to prevent intimacy. John always holds his friends at arm's length, so that no one gets close enough to hurt his feelings. My daughter likes to watch me cook, but I make sure to hold her at arm's length so she doesn't get close to anything hot.
See also: hold, length
References in periodicals archive ?
He later glued the card onto a sheet of lead (pictured) and found the result more satisfactory, but at 450g, rather tiring to hold at arm's length.
A few weeks ago English cricket treated the Indian Premier League like something you might hold at arm's length with one hand while squeezing your nose with the other.
Have an adult help you get a rotating stool or chair and two heavy objects that you can hold at arm's length.