give a wide berth to, to

give a wide berth to, to

To avoid. This term, which in the eighteenth century literally meant to give a ship plenty of room to swing at anchor, was transferred to other objects of avoidance and soon became a cliché. “I recommend you to keep a wide berth of me, sir,” wrote Thackeray (The Newcomes, 1854).
See also: berth, give, wide