Definition of at arm's length in English:

at arm's length

phrase

  • 1Away from the body, with one's arm fully extended.

    ‘I held the telephone at arm's length’
    • ‘The man in the passenger side draped a white flag out the window at arm's length.’
    • ‘As a woman she was not allowed to touch him, so made her diagnosis at arm's length.’
    • ‘In the picture they were both looking shy, sitting just close enough to get in view as she held the camera at arm's length.’
    • ‘He brought up his gun, holding it at arm's length with both hands.’
    • ‘Damon took it from her and held it out at arm's length to look at it.’
    • ‘Aunt Gail moved back, holding me at arm's length, tears glistening in her eyes.’
    • ‘I held the mixing bowl and album at arm's length, tilting them away from me slightly.’
    • ‘Nero holds his daughter at arm's length while he investigates the issues.’
    • ‘In this piece, he stood on a white box for 24 hours, performing a complicated series of actions with objects held out at arm's length.’
    • ‘Hurriedly I picked up the annoying, buzzing thing and held it at arm's length.’
    • ‘You're wondering if there will be enough room even to hold your book at arm's length above shoulder level and squint at the small type on the train.’
    • ‘Now simply grasp the dowel with both hands, hold it out at arm's length and alternately wind and unwind the cord.’
    • ‘His hands dropped from her back, but she held him at arm's length, gripping his shoulders defiantly.’
    • ‘Jocelyn reached behind her neck and released the clasp, removed the necklace and held it at arm's length to him.’
    • ‘I give him a cheque, at arm's length, but can't find my guarantee card.’
    • ‘Claw held the pearl-handled pistol at arm's length, studying the sheen on the blued barrel.’
    • ‘He held the bag at arm's length, glowering at me as if he had a bad smell under his nose.’
    • ‘After weeks and weeks of blurred vision and of holding books and paper at arm's length, the whole world, near and far, leapt into sharp focus once more.’
    • ‘He also remembers a bottle of brown medicine that was so vile to smell that even his mother had to hold it at arm's length.’
    • ‘She held out the photographs at arm's length, gripping the rim of her eyeglasses with a free hand as if it were a telescope.’
  • 2Avoiding intimacy or close contact.

    ‘he has long fought to keep the government at arm's length from big business’
    • ‘For all their charms, Mamet's early films had a stagy, mannered quality that kept the viewer at arm's length.’
    • ‘In fact, he is incapable of making lasting human relationships as we know them; his penchant for the truth will only allow him to keep people at arm's length.’
    • ‘And so, therefore, he's got to - he's got to keep us at arm's length.’
    • ‘McConnell is notoriously territorial and will be tempted to keep Alexander at arm's length.’
    • ‘The overall strategy should be the same as it always was at least until the 1980s - to keep potential adversaries at arm's length.’
    • ‘Events become increasingly chaotic as Ellwood desperately tries to seal his deal while simultaneously keeping the suspicious sergeant at arm's length.’
    • ‘She said that they still talked, but she kept him at arm's length; they were not as close.’
    • ‘He deliberately kept his sister at arm's length; what few real close friends he had you could probably count on one hand.’
    • ‘But unlike the older star, Bardem has so far kept Hollywood at arm's length.’
    • ‘Mediæval kings may have been surrounded by importunate projectors and alchemists, but they mostly kept them at arm's length.’
    • ‘McNealy has long fought to keep the government at arm's length from big business and says that too much intrusion could be enough to take the fun out of being a CEO.’
    • ‘It feels dated and it keeps us at arm's length from the violence.’
    • ‘But they started off in the same way of trying to keep the press at arm's length and trying to control things.’
    • ‘Debbie led a frugal life so she could send a large part of her salary to her family and kept male admirers at arm's length.’
    • ‘I had a wonderful chance today but he kept me at arm's length.’
    • ‘While the contractors reassured us that they were keeping him at arm's length, we couldn't be entirely sure that they were not tempted by the prospect of some easy extra money on the back of our job.’
    • ‘Yet part of his great skill as a documentary-maker is his way of consulting all the experts, then keeping them at arm's length when he is making his decisions - precisely what has triggered the backlash.’
    • ‘His father has kept him at arm's length ever since his mother died giving birth to him; and his sister, the only one who seems to care much about him, is embarking on a rather troubled phase of her adolescence.’
    • ‘There were some who never trusted me and kept me at arm's length and a few who had serious mental illnesses or developmental disabilities that made it impossible for us to develop a rapport.’
    • ‘They kept me at arm's length, they had to because of my reckless behaviour.’
    avoid, keep away from, stay away from, steer clear of, circumvent, give a wide berth to
    View synonyms