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.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON THESE WORDS FROM BROWN GIRL DREAMING!

Visualize yourself passing this quiz on words from Jacqueline Woodson’s exquisite verse novel “Brown Girl Dreaming,” and then take the quiz to prove you can do it! (Because you can.)
Question 1 of 10
What does “barren” mean?

Words nearby not touch with a ten-foot pole

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