In English, "arm's length" has a metaphorical meaning, of handling things in a proper way even though there's a potential conflict of interest. (English Wiktionary, English Wikipedia). (The German Wikipedia has an article called Fremdvergleichsgrundsatz)

Does "Armlänge" have any such metaphorical meaning?

Armlänge is a redlink in the German Wiktionary (Arm "Wortbildungen" section), and armlang has a literal meaning but no metaphorical meaning.

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    You may want to consider "Katzensprung" (a cat's jump) for a metaphorical expression of "shorthaul". Jan 10, 2016 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


Armlänge has no traditional metaphorical meaning.

Nevertheless, you might have noticed the word being used very frequently in the German networks throughout the last days. This phenomenon is a satirical reaction to the mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker, who advised female citizens to "maintain an arm's length distance from strangers" in order to protect themselves. Considering the recent events, this (probably well-meant) statement provoked lots of Germans and aroused heavy debates about victim-blaming and the migrant crisis.

At the moment (Jan 2016), the word is kind of a running gag.

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