keep (someone or something) at a distance

keep (someone or something) at a distance

1. To prevent someone, something, or oneself from interacting or becoming involved (with someone or something else). Usually followed by "from someone or something." The government has so far been keeping the country at a distance from the hostilities in the region. My mother was very overprotective, and she always kept me at a distance from anything or anyone she thought might be harmful.
2. To maintain a protective level of detachment or dissociation from someone or something. John has been keeping us all at a distance lately, so none of us knows how he is really doing. The senator was careful to keep the controversial topic at a distance during his re-election campaign.
See also: distance, keep
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

keep someone or something at a distance

to retain some amount of physical distance from someone or something. Please try to keep Tom at a distance. He just gets in the way. I wanted to keep the smelly plant at a distance.
See also: distance, keep
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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