at someone's elbow

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at (one's) elbow

Close by; readily available. Please stay at your mother's elbow, in case she needs your help. I'm not very creative in the kitchen, so I always have a cookbook at my elbow when I prepare a new dish.
See also: elbow
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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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.