Stay away from, avoid, as in Dad warned us to steer clear of Dr. Smith and his poor advice. This idiom alludes to guiding a vessel away from some obstacle. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1723.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.