not touch with a ten-foot pole

Idioms & Phrases

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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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