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give a wide berth

Avoid, as in After Jane told on them, they gave her a wide berth. This expression alludes to giving a vessel enough room to swing at anchor so as to avoid a collision. [ Mid-1800s ]
The American HeritageĀ® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright Ā© 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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