give (someone or something) a wide berth

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give (someone or something) a wide berth

To maintain a good distance from someone or something. Originally referred to ships. Once I learned that there was a lice outbreak, I gave all of my students a wide berth for the rest of the day. We've been giving John a wide berth ever since he dumped our good friend.
See also: berth, give, wide

give someone or something a wide berth

Fig. to keep a reasonable distance from someone or something; to steer clear (of someone or something). (Originally referred to sailing ships.) The dog we are approaching is very mean. Better give it a wide berth. Give Mary a wide berth. She's in a very bad mood.
See also: berth, give, wide

give a wide berth

Avoid, as in After Jane told on them, they gave her a wide berth. This expression alludes to giving a vessel enough room to swing at anchor so as to avoid a collision. [Mid-1800s]
See also: berth, give, wide

give someone/something a wide berth

If you give someone or something a wide berth, you deliberately avoid them. I don't mess with people like that, not me. I give them a wide berth. Having lived all my life in Africa I have a very healthy respect for snakes and give them a wide berth. Note: A berth is the amount of space which a sailing ship needs to manoeuvre safely.

give someone or something a wide berth

stay away from someone or something.
Berth is a nautical term which originally referred to the distance that ships should keep away from each other or from the shore, rocks, etc., in order to avoid a collision. Therefore, the literal meaning of the expression is ‘steer a ship well clear of something while passing it’.
References in classic literature ?
Nobody would live in it afterward, or go near it by night, and most people even gave it a wide berth in the daytime.