keep (someone or something, or oneself) at a distance

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keep (someone or something, or oneself) at a distance

1. To maintain a significant degree of physical separation from someone or something. You've got to make sure to keep this stuff at a distance if you're handling nitric acid—unless you want an explosion, that is. He sets up a border with ropes to keep the audience at a distance while he performs his fire-juggling routine.
2. To ensure someone, something, or oneself remains physically separated (from someone or something else). Usually followed by "from someone or something." I'm still feeling a bit under the weather, so you should probably keep yourself at a distance. Please keep bystanders and passersby at a distance from the work site.
See also: distance, keep

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