hold someone or something at something
to keep someone or something at some distance, such as an arm's length, respectful distance, comfortable distance, etc. I held the child at an arm's length until he could be calmed. The police held the crowd at a distance from the injured man.
See also: hold
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.