What's the legal term for "keep away from" / "keep a distance from"? I'm looking for a verb that means/expresses such a concept.

What I really want is not the legal term but what those people says in law-related TV dramas, that sounded fancy when I heard them. E.g.:

Due to the conflict of interest, I decided to ( keep away ) from this matter.

I think I've heard such conversation/situation many many times, in all different TV series, but just forgot what that fancy word they use.


3 Answers 3


Due to the conflict of interest, I decided to ( keep away ) from this matter.

In a legal setting the word might be recuse - to remove from participation in a court case due to potential prejudice or partiality.

Due to the conflict of interest, I decided to recuse myself from further participation in this matter.

It can be used outside of the courtroom in a joking way - probably because of all those popular courtroom dramas - but it might be a little tricky for a non-native speaker to pull off in conversation. You would only use it in cases where someone has a conflict of interest.


You can try refrain though it's mostly used for verbs (and 'matter' is a noun):

: to keep oneself from doing, feeling, or indulging in something and especially from following a passing impulse
// refrained from having dessert

(source: Merriam-Webster)

As for your new examples,

  • I decided to refrain from participating

  • I decided to refrain from getting involved

sound fine.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for the swift answer. Due to the lack of judgement, I normally come back a week to accept the most voted answer. Please understand -- i'm not ignoring everyone's answer, to put it another way.
    – xpt
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 12:43
  • Any one who down-voted this, care for an explanation pls?
    – xpt
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:17
  • 1
    I didn't downvote, but perhaps those who did are noticing that "refrain" is more typically used in front of "from +[a gerund]" but the OP asked for something to precede a noun. Or perhaps not - I don't know, because I am not among them.
    – Adam
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:22
  • Glorfindel, I understand "refrain from getting involved" is OK, but OK to say "refrain from participation"?
    – xpt
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 11:50
  • Almost, see the updated answer. Participation is a noun :)
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 11:53

You can always use specialized websites to look up synonyms. For instance, I googled "keep away synonyms", and the first link led me to "Synonyms of avoid" (Merriam-Webster)

The word "avoid" in itself is quite official-looking, and might suit your purpose.

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