not touch with a ten-foot pole

Stay far away from, avoid completely, as in Ronald wouldn't touch raw oysters with a ten-foot pole. This expression dates from the mid-1700s, when it began to replace the earlier not to be handled with a pair of tongs. In the 1800s barge-pole was sometimes substituted for ten-foot pole, but that variant has died out.


Nearby words

  1. not the only fish in the sea,
  2. not think much of,
  3. not to be sneezed at,
  4. not to mention,
  5. not to worry,
  6. not turn a hair,
  7. not up to,
  8. not worth a damn,
  9. not-,
  10. not-for-profit

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.