give a wide berth to (someone or something)

give a wide berth to (someone or something)

1. To maintain a good distance from someone or something. Originally referred to ships. Once I learned that there was a lice outbreak, I gave a wide berth to all of my students for the rest of the day. We've been giving a wide berth to John ever since he dumped our good friend.
2. By extension, to avoid interacting or dealing with someone or something. The government has given a wide berth to the cyber security company ever since its data breach became public knowledge. I would give a wide berth to anyone who claims to have some sort of miracle cure not supported by scientific evidence.
See also: berth, give, to, wide
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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, to, wide
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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