To give it a wide berth

to give it a wide berth meaning usage

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I must admit I haven’t been very active lately as I was away quite a lot for the past two months, but now that I’m back in the UK there should be no shortage of interesting expressions and idioms to write about.

This one I actually heard a while ago when a friend invited me to a proper English barbecue. I have to say it was a very international gathering, with British, Russian, Uzbek and Polish barbecuers (or barbecuants?). I mentioned my recent trip to Paris, to which one of the guests replied that she always ‘gave it a wide berth‘ whenever she went to France, trying to stick to more rural areas.  I thought it was a bit of a radical choice, but then… each to their own. And, considering that no love is lost between the Brits and the French I wasn’t really that surprised.

Even though I instantly recalled the meaning of this expression – basically, ‘to avoid’ or ‘to leave more space between you and another object’ if used in its literal sense – I realised it wasn’t really a part of my active vocabulary, so I thought it was a good idea to mention it here. With some more examples, of course:

– My mother recalled how he was given a wide berth by the local populace, though whether this was because he was an artist or a rent collector was never clear (The Guardian).

– Make eye contact with drivers. Peek back over your shoulder every now and then – you’ll be amazed how many drivers slow or give you a wider berth (The Guardian).

– Recent headlines about horse meat have led Europe’s consumers to give some “beef” products a wide berth – but horse has long been enjoyed in some European countries. In Paris, fashionable chefs have actually been putting it back on their menus. So will more diners now be jumping for the horse tartare? (BBC)

– I wish the games every success, but I intend giving London a wide berth later this summer. The lure of a 2012 soccer match at the ground formerly known as St James’ Park isn’t enough to make me want to spectate in person (BBC).

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