hold someone or something at bay

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.
See also: bay, hold

hold (or keep) someone or something at bay

prevent someone or something from approaching or having an effect.
See also: bay, hold, someone, something