ward off

To ward off something is to keep it from happening. You might try to ward off the virus that's going around by washing your hands constantly.

When you ward something off, you keep it at bay or prevent its occurrence. You might ward off your grandmother's kisses by holding a tray of cookies in front of yourself when she arrives, or swear that you ward off the flu by eating plenty of oranges and grapefruit. In the late 16th century, the verb ward was used to mean "parry" or "fend off," with the off being added much later.

Definitions of ward off
  1. verb
    prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
    synonyms: avert, avoid, debar, deflect, fend off, forefend, forfend, head off, obviate, stave off
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    type of:
    forbid, foreclose, forestall, preclude, prevent
    keep from happening or arising; make impossible
  2. verb
    avert, turn away, or repel
    Ward off danger”
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    type of:
    defend
    be on the defensive; act against an attack