hold (one) at arm's length

(redirected from holds at arm's length)

hold (one) at arm's length

To keep one at a certain distance away, either physical or figurative, in order to afford a level of safety or security or to prevent intimacy. John always holds his friends at arm's length, so that no one gets close enough to hurt his feelings. My daughter likes to watch me cook, but I make sure to hold her at arm's length so she doesn't get close to anything hot.
See also: hold, length
References in periodicals archive ?
They also serve who sit on metal folding chairs in absolute silence and without so much as a lunch break while an election official holds at arm's length one after another of the Florida county's famous disputed butterfly ballots so the journalists can suss out whether the chad of George W.