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At a safe distance; held back by some action. That preventative course of antibiotics really kept the illness at bay—I was hardly sick at all! We have a security system to keep burglars at bay.
To howl at. A: "What's that noise?" B: "Just some coyotes baying at the moon."
bay at the moon
To make appeals in vain. Good luck talking to the principal, but I think you'll just be baying at the moon—I doubt you'll get a better grade.
bay for blood
To demand punishment or retribution for a person or group, especially in a ferocious or zealous manner. My co-workers have been baying for blood ever since they found out that I lied about my credentials on my résumé. Protesters immediately bayed for blood when it was revealed that the governor had been aware of the cover-up from the start.
1. A large, protruding window that extends from the wall of a building and creates an alcove inside. Mom still decorates the bay window for every holiday.
2. slang A large or bulging stomach. If you don't get that bay window under control, you'll be asked to play Santa Claus this year!
be baying for blood
To demand punishment or retribution for a person or group, especially in a ferocious or zealous manner. My co-workers have been baying for blood ever since they found out that I lied about my credentials on my résumé. Protesters are baying for blood after it was revealed that the governor had been aware of the cover-up from the start.
bring (someone or something) to bay
To catch or trap someone or something (such as an animal). That beast has been terrorizing the townspeople for weeks—we must bring it to bay at once!
flourish like a green bay tree
To thrive; to grow very successfully. The green bay tree is known to grow several new branches every year. Wow, you have just been flourishing like a green bay tree ever since you changed majors.
hold (someone or something) at bay
To keep someone or something at a distance or from reaching full potency, especially in order to prevent harm to oneself. These tree frogs have a powerful poison on their backs that helps hold predators at bay. You have to start meeting your minimum monthly repayments if you want to hold your creditors at bay. During my college years, the only things I had to hold hunger at bay were beans, rice, and plain pasta.
keep (someone or something) at bay
To keep someone or something at a distance or from reaching full potency, especially in order to prevent harm to oneself. During my college years, the only things I had to keep hunger at bay were beans, rice, and plain pasta. You have to start meeting your minimum monthly repayments if you want to keep your creditors at bay. These tree frogs have a powerful poison on their backs that helps keep predators at bay.
keep the wolves at bay
To do, acquire, or provide something that will allow one or something to narrowly avoid catastrophe, especially financial ruin. We were extremely poor then, and begging for scraps was all I could do to keep the wolves at bay. This loan will keep the wolves at bay, but I'm worried it won't last long.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Fig. at a distance. (*Typically: be ~; keep someone or something ~; remain ~.) I have to keep the bill collectors at bay until I get my paycheck. The mosquitoes will not remain at bay for very long.
bay at something
to howl at something. (Usually said of a dog, wolf, or coyote.) The dogs were baying at the moon. We heard a coyote in the distance, baying at the moon.
hold someone or something at bay
Fig. to make someone, a group, or an animal stay at a safe distance. (Originally referred only to animals.) I held the attacker at bay while Mary got away and called the police. The dogs held the bear at bay while I got my gun loaded.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Cornered, in distress, as in Angry bystanders chased the thief into an alley and held him at bay until the police arrived . This idiom originally came from hunting, where it describes an animal that has been driven back and now faces pursuing hounds. Its use for other situations dates from the late 1500s.
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.
keep something/someone at bayor
hold something/someone at bay
COMMON If you keep something or someone at bay or hold them at bay, you stop them from attacking you or harming you. By salting the meat, bacteria were kept at bay, preserving the meat for future use. Tooth decay can be held at bay by fluoride toothpaste and good dentistry. A dozen American soldiers held the crowd at bay until the helicopter lifted off. Note: When a hunted animal is at bay, it is trapped by the hounds (= hunting dogs) and forced to turn and face them to defend itself. However, if the animal is successfully defending itself in this position, you can say that it is holding the hounds at bay. This second use seems the most likely origin of the expression.
be baying for someone's bloodor
be baying for bloodBRITISH
If people are baying for someone's blood or baying for blood, they want someone to be punished or hurt. Eight thousand supporters were baying for the manager's blood after a 5-0 loss to Grimsby. The travel company had just buried itself with debts of more than £12m and thousands of disappointed holidaymakers were baying for blood. Note: This expression compares the people's demands to the sounds that dogs make on a hunt.
bay at the moonor
howl at the moonLITERARY
If you bay at the moon or howl at the moon, you waste your time and energy trying to do something which is impossible or trying to get something which you cannot have. You're looking for the perfect man and he doesn't exist. You're baying at the moon.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
bay for blooddemand punishment or retribution.
bring someone or something to baytrap or corner a person or animal being hunted or chased.
This phrase was originally a medieval hunting term, referring to the position of the quarry when it is cornered by the baying hounds. An animal cornered in this way is said to stand at bay .
hold (or keep) someone or something at bayprevent someone or something from approaching or having an effect.
bay at the moonclamour or make an outcry to no effect.
The barking of dogs at a full moon has been a metaphor for futile activity since the mid 17th century.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
at ˈbaywhen an animal that is being hunted is at bay, it must turn and face the dogs and hunters because it is impossible to escape from them
hold/keep somebody/something at ˈbayprevent somebody/something from coming too close or attacking: Vitamin C helps to keep colds and flu at bay.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. a belly; an abdomen. You are going to have to do something about that bay window.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
hold at bay, to
To keep some adverse situation from worsening; to hold off an enemy. The term comes from the Old French tenir a bay, which meant to hold open or in suspense, and referred to a hunted animal being cornered by its pursuers. The term was used literally by the fourteenth century, and figuratively soon thereafter. It is also phrased as to keep at bay.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
To keep someone or something at a safe distance. The phrase derives from stag hunting, from a French word that also is the source of the English word for the baying howl that hounds make during a chance. A tired and cornered stag that turns to face the pursuing hounds is, for the moment, at a safe distance from its attackers.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price