keep (someone or something) at arm's length

Definition of keep (someone or something) at arm's length

:to avoid being very close to or friendly with someone or something
  • Since going to college, he has kept his old friends at arm's length.
  • They no longer trust her and are keeping her at arm's length.

Word by Word Definitions

keep play
  1. : to retain in one's possession or power

  2. : to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing

  3. : to have in control

  1. : the means or provisions by which one is kept

  2. : one that keeps or protects: such as

  3. : fortress, castle

someone play
  1. : some person : somebody

something play
  1. : some indeterminate or unspecified thing

  2. : some indeterminate amount more than a specified number

  3. : a person or thing of consequence

  1. : in some degree : somewhat

  2. used as an intensive giving adverbial force to an adjective

arm play
  1. : a human upper limb

  2. : something like or corresponding to an arm: such as

  3. : the forelimb of a vertebrate

  1. : to furnish or equip with weapons

  2. : to furnish with something that strengthens or protects

  3. : to equip or ready for action or operation

  1. : a means (such as a weapon) of offense or defense

  2. : a combat branch (as of an army)

  3. : an organized branch of national defense (such as the navy)

length play
  1. : the longer or longest dimension of an object

  2. : a measured distance or dimension — see Metric System Table, Weights and Measures Table

  3. : the quality or state of being long


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a strongly worded attack

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