Okay, by now you should know that I’m an idiot for idioms. I like finding out what phrases mean and where they came from.
I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole . . . an expression I’ve been saying all my life. Well, I said it the other day and so I says to myself . . . “I wonder where that came from”. So here it is.
Who amongst you knows what a bargepole is . . .
A bargepole is simply a long wooden pole that is used to push barges along. A barge pole just so happens to be an average of 10 – 12 feet in length. A ten-foot pole is just barge-pole by another name.
I'd assumed that the ten-foot pole version appeared because most people wouldn't know a barge-pole from a hole in the road.