Definition of keep one's distance in US English:

keep one's distance


  • 1Stay far away.

    ‘keep your distance from birds feeding their young’
    • ‘Be accurate, stay focused, be skeptical but never cynical, keep your distance, don't cross what I call the emotional line and listen carefully.’
    • ‘We keep our distance, lower our expectations, stay cool, aloof, and separate.’
    • ‘Both had done all the right things, the family said - they stayed together, avoided heavy drinking sessions, and kept their distance from local youths.’
    • ‘Stay with your friends and I'll keep my distance.’
    • ‘If equipped with long range weapons they will keep their distance and try to stay away from your reach.’
    • ‘I wished I had stayed in the back of the car and kept my distance, but it was too late.’
    • ‘Kevin's eyes stayed locked onto the coffin, and she kept her distance, her feet very solidly planted on the ground.’
    • ‘So I decided to keep my distance and stay where I was by my car door.’
    • ‘The centurion tried to keep his distance with his long sword, but Jacomus tried to stay close with his gladius.’
    1. 1.1 Maintain one's reserve.
      ‘you had to say nothing and keep your distance’
      • ‘The headmaster of Settle High School criticised parents who kept their distance from the school.’
      • ‘This is a break with the tradition of analysts keeping their distance from the players in the field so as to maintain their objectivity.’
      • ‘Better, no doubt, to keep your distance so that you can maintain the coveted adversarial relationship.’
      • ‘Moses said he saw that the police kept their distance from reserve communities because of a lack of understanding of the people and their culture.’
      • ‘For two years I have kept my thoughts mostly to myself and kept my distance when I couldn't take the rudeness.’
      • ‘To a degree I wish I had kept my distance and simply helped her out of that situation as a friend.’
      • ‘More arrogant, to me, is the author who keeps his distance from these giants, having a doubtful reservation, than those of us who openly accept them.’
      • ‘They opened a discussion in which both freely admitted that, in the past, faith leaders had kept their distance from one another.’
      • ‘Should I keep my distance to maintain my authority or spend time with everyone to make sure things get done?’
      • ‘All in all, though, I've kept my distance from such matters.’