Give a wide berth


      • Avoid or avoid contact with someone or something
        To deliberately keep distance or stay away from a person, place, or thing in order to avoid any potential negative consequences or interactions.

      • Show respect or consideration for someone or something
        To give a respectful or considerate amount of space to someone or something, often out of courtesy or politeness.

      • To be generous or forgiving towards someone
        To give someone the benefit of the doubt or to overlook their mistakes or shortcomings.

      • To have a wide range of options or opportunities
        To have a lot of choices or possibilities available, indicating abundance or variety.

    Examples of Give a wide berth

    • The driver honked and swerved to avoid hitting the reckless cyclist. He shouted out the window, "Give that cyclist a wide berth!"

      This example shows the idiom "give a wide berth" in a command form. It means to keep a safe distance from someone or something that is potentially dangerous or inconvenient. In this instance, the cyclist is being deemed a potential danger to other road users, and the driver is warning others to keep their distance from him.

    • Amy gagged at the sight of the rotten food in the fridge. She scowled and scooped up the Spam, grumbling, "I'll give that junk a wide berth from now on."

      This example shows the idiom "give a wide berth" in an internal monologue. It highlights the sense of disgust and discomfort Amy feels towards the food, and how she intends to steer clear of it in the future.

    • Sarah was desperate to find a seat on the crowded train. She spotted an empty space near a smelly homeless man. She wrinkled her nose and walked past him, muttering, "I'd rather stand than give that guy a wide berth."

      This example shows the idiom "give a wide berth" in a negative context. It suggests that Sarah would prefer to deal with a less preferable situation - being on her feet instead of being near the unpleasant man. It implies that while Sarah would rather not deal with the man, she's prepared to avoid him if necessary.

    • The CEO warned the employees, "Whenever the boss is in a bad mood, give him a wide berth. You don't want to be on the receiving end of his wrath."

      This example shows the idiom "give a wide berth" in an instructional setting. It implies that the boss is prone to aggressive or unpredictable behaviour, and suggests that employees should avoid him during his mood swings to stay safe. It encourages distance and caution in the face of potential danger.

    • The construction area had several signs warning pedestrians to give a wide berth due to the heavy machinery and falling debris.

      "Give a wide berth" in this context means to keep a safe distance from the construction area in order to avoid any potential accidents or injuries caused by the ongoing construction work.

    • After getting into a heated argument with his neighbor, John made sure to give a wide berth to avoid any unwanted confrontations.

      "Give a wide berth" in this example could mean physically avoiding the neighbor or simply giving the neighbor some space and time to cool off after the argument.

    • As a polite gesture, Karen slowed down her car and gave a wide berth to the cyclist who was crossing the road.

      "Give a wide berth" in this instance could mean allowing ample space for the cyclist to safely cross the road without any risk of collision.

    • In the crowded marketplace,shoppers were advised to give a wide berth to avoid being caught in the hustle and bustle of the busy shopping area.

      "Give a wide berth" here could mean creating enough distance between oneself and the crowd to easily navigate through the busy marketplace without any congestion or disturbance.


    The idiom "give a wide berth" is commonly used to convey the idea of avoiding someone or something, whether it be for negative or positive reasons. It can also imply being generous or having many options available. Overall, the idiom suggests keeping a safe distance or showing respect towards someone or something.

    Origin of "Give a wide berth"

    The origin of this idiom dates back to nautical terminology. In the 1700s, "berth" referred to the space on a ship where sailors slept. "Wide berth" meant having enough space to move around freely, which was considered a luxury on ships. Over time, the phrase evolved to also mean keeping a safe distance from other ships or obstacles in the water.

    In the 1800s, the idiom began being used in a figurative sense, to mean avoiding something or someone. It was often used in a negative context, warning others to steer clear of a particular person or situation. As time went on, the idiom also took on a positive connotation, with people using it to express showing respect or giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

    Today, "give a wide berth" is a commonly used idiom in everyday language, with its origins still rooted in its nautical past. It continues to convey the idea of avoiding or showing respect towards someone or something, while also implying a sense of abundance or generosity.