Wide berth

Meaning

What does Wide berth mean?

The commonly used term to Give a wide berth means to keep a distance or avoid someone or something.

E.g.: I tend to give the city center a wide berth on Saturdays because it’s so busy.

Origin

What's the origin of Wide berth?

Literally, “to give wide berth” was a nautical term since the 17th century meaning keeping a safe distance between ships.

The idiomatic meaning of the phrase, commonly used nowadays, was first used by Sir Walter Scott in Letters on demonology and witchcraft in 1829.

Spread & Usage

How did Wide berth spread?

The term “wide berth” was quite frequent in the late 19th century.

Although its popularity started diminishing in the early 20th century, the use of the term skyrocketed after 1995 most probably thanks to its appearance in movies and series such as Deadwood – Deep water (2004), The Office (2005), Breaking bad (2008), Taken (2008) Sherlock (2010), Downton Abbey (2010), Orville (2017), Sweet magnolias (2020) and The Batman 2022).

The expression itself was defined in Urban Dictionary on December 21, 2013.

On March 4, 2018, the rapper Tha God Fahim with Mach Hommy released an album, under the title “Wide Berth” giving the highest peak in the use and reference of the expression.

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