I've been hard put to come up with the most appropriate English expression for a particular Russian one.

In Russian, an expression that roughly translates as "To not let someone come near X within a firing distance" is fairly common. I believe it's self-explanatory, so I won't going into much detail here. But here's an example of it in use:

This guy shouldn't be allowed within a firing distance near children.

What would be the best "native" English expression to convey the same idea?

  • 2
    Within firing distance is also an English idiom. Jul 27, 2015 at 0:45
  • "anywhere near"
    – shawnt00
    Jul 27, 2015 at 3:46

4 Answers 4


We have the saying "within spitting distance".

. This guy shouldn't be allowed within spitting distance of X.

within spitting distance

= close, near, beside, alongside, close by, just round the corner, within sniffing distance (informal), a hop, skip and a jump away (informal) • a restaurant within spitting distance of the Tower of London


I'm not sure it's the best option for your specific example.

Another possibility is "within a mile of".

. This guy shouldn't be allowed within a mile of children.

This doesn't literally mean a mile, just a long distance.

  • 8
    A mile is probably closer to actual firing distance than spitting distance is; I think I'd go with that here. Jul 26, 2015 at 20:50
  • I don't think the first one really works, spitting distance is used to suggest closeness, but the implication of the original phrase is that the person should be kept at a considerable distance.
    – Neil W
    Jul 27, 2015 at 11:24
  • Oh, and I think for the second one, a country mile could be used as well.
    – Neil W
    Jul 27, 2015 at 11:29

There is a phrase I wouldn't touch it [him/her] with a ten foot pole

(verb phrase)

To be loath to have anything to do with; be suspicious or apprehensive; reject : If I were you I wouldn't touch that proposition with a ten-foot pole

[1909+; semantically akin to the proverb advising us to use a long spoon when we eat with the devil; an earlier and once more common version spoke of a forty-foot pole]


This phrase is sometimes applied to potential (or not so potential) romantic partners.

If you are specifically looking for the dangerous aspect, this doesn't supply it.


Another phrase concerning keeping one's distance is I would avoid him [it/her] like the plague

Evade or elude at any cost, shun. For example, Since Bob was taken into police custody, his friends have been avoiding him and his family like the plague.

This seemingly modern expression dates from the Latin of the early Middle Ages, when Saint Jerome (a.d. 345-420) wrote, "Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman who is also a man of business." The plague, a deadly infectious disease in his day, has been largely wiped out, but the term remains current.

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms found at idioms.thefreedictionary.com

  • 6
    “He shouldn't be allowed to touch children with a ten-inch pole” sounds just a tad wrong, though… Jul 26, 2015 at 21:17
  • Shame on you! Oh, maybe you meant a ten-inch Pole. But it's not nice to joke about height-challenged Slavs either. Jul 27, 2015 at 6:23

A man or woman of this variety should be kept at arms length... this is a bit closer than a 10 foot pole and a little further than spitting distance; you might also say within a stones throw, a distance very similar to spitting distance. It's all about distance and the understanding that coming closer might cause a violent action.

  • But firing distance add a hint what to do if person come closer. So stone trow is closest answer.
    – talex
    Jul 27, 2015 at 13:17
  • Ah, I see what you mean. Then it seems like within a stones throw would be the most appropriate phrase for you. I will edit my answer to reflect that notion Jul 27, 2015 at 20:24

One way to express it ( because of a restraining order for instance ) is to to say that someone is:

  • Not allowed to be within 100 feet/yards of someone or something

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