hold someone or something at bay

hold (someone or something) at bay

To keep something at a distance from oneself, especially that which is harmful or unpleasant; to control something in order to keep it from doing harm to oneself. During my college years, the only things I had to hold hunger at bay were beans, rice, and plain pasta. You have to start meeting your minimum monthly repayments if you want to hold your creditors at bay. These tree frogs have a powerful poison on their backs that helps hold predators at bay.
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