keep (one) at arm's length

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Related to kept at arm's length: hold at arm's length

keep (one) at arm's length

To keep one a certain distance away, either physical or figurative, in order to afford a level of safety or security or to prevent intimacy. John always keeps 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 keep her at arm's length so she doesn't get close to anything hot.
See also: keep, length
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

keep someone at arm's length

If you keep someone at arm's length, you avoid being friendly with them or getting emotionally involved with them. Brian felt more guilt than grief. He'd tried to get close, but his father had kept him at arm's length.
See also: keep, length, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

keep someone or something at arm's length

avoid intimacy or close contact with someone or something.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

keep somebody at arm’s ˈlength

avoid becoming too friendly with somebody: He’s the kind of man who’s best kept at arm’s length.
See also: keep, length, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

keep at arm's length, to

To avoid familiarity, to keep someone at a distance. This expression, with its inevitable image of extending one’s arm to push someone away, has long been used figuratively to signify distancing oneself from a problem, group, political stand, and so forth. In the sixteenth century it was put as at arm’s end, as Sir Philip Sidney had it in Arcadia (1580), but by the mid-seventeenth century it began to appear as at arm’s length.
See also: keep, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Freche goes on to describe the emergence of the contrastingly highly politicized Hainaut grouping, which, thanks to Mesens, was kept at arm's length from the non-partisan bruxellois.
Of course, a sport that is friendly unto itself is logically bound to be welcoming and relaxed towards outsiders, which is why we are enfolded into the mix rather than kept at arm's length.
Plymouth were in the main kept at arm's length by a back four that has found a new resolve.
NORTHERN SEOL: Ki-Hyeon Seol celebrates his spectacular late winner for Wolves at the New Den yesterday KEPT AT ARM'S LENGTH: Jody Craddock (right) tries to get the better of Millwall's Danny Dichio
The conclusion is unavoidable: increased development costs tend to have an isolating effect, even for supposedly rugged military technology, because users are kept at arm's length and development times stretch into decades.
With a proper 'army' of doormen, working hand in hand with the police, trouble is more likely to be kept at arm's length.
That is why a great deal of sensitivity is required in dealing with the flag and anthem controversy -- and why the issue should be kept at arm's length from public education.
The relationship between you and your distributor should be friendly, but kept at arm's length. In most cases, therefore, you would be wise to resist the temptation to take an equity stake in your distributor.
HELD AT BAY: Iain Hume is kept at arm's length in Tranmere's 1- 1 draw against Bournemouth at Prenton Park on Saturday
However, the writer director reins in the emotional aspects of the film to such a degree that the viewer is kept at arm's length from the characters.
And the reason for that was because, in the West, AIDS first made its appearance among gays--a community whose representation in the mainstream had always been kept at arm's length.
In China, where religion is kept at arm's length while consumerism is embraced by officials eager for economic development but wary of independent social influences, Christmas is about malls decked out with red ribbons, gold tinsel, gingerbread villages and twinkling evergreen trees.
Blues certainly had plenty of possession on Tuesday night but they were kept at arm's length by Tony Pulis' Boro.
Nepotism in the force could be tackled if the police command was given more powers and the politicians -- minister of justice and president -- were kept at arm's length. Of course, there would have to be a reliable and objective evaluation system in place so that promotions were based exclusively on performance.