at arm's length

(redirected from keep at arm's length)
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at arm's length

At or occupying a distance, either physical or figurative, away from oneself that affords a level of safety or security or that excludes intimacy. I'm involved in all the board meetings, but I prefer to stay at arm's length if the issues become too contentious. John always keeps his friends at arm's length, so that no one gets close enough to hurt his feelings.
See also: length

at arm's length

At a distance, avoiding intimacy or familiarity, as in Bill hated seeing his colleagues outside the office, preferring to keep all of them at arm's length , or She was friendly only when he was safely at arm's length. Now often used with the verb keep, this term for distancing oneself from a person, organization, or issue originated as at arm's end but developed its current form by the mid-1600s.
See also: length

at arm's length

COMMON If one person or organization is at arm's length from another, they are not closely connected, for example because it would be wrong for them to influence one another. The prison service is moving towards becoming a self-regulating agency at arm's length from government. Relations between the bank and the committee will be at arm's length until the report is delivered in July.
See also: length

at arm's length

At such a distance that physical or social contact is discouraged: kept the newcomer at arm's length at first.
See also: length