personal space

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personal space (countable and uncountable, plural personal spaces)

  1. The physical space closely surrounding a person, which can lead to discomfort, anger or anxiety if encroached on.
    • 2010, The Economist, 4 Feb 2010:
      It is customary, moreover, for those sharing a cabin to while away train journeys chatting on the two bottom bunks, which is likely to jar with many Westerners' narrower conceptions of personal space and ownership (especially if they have paid top dollar for the prized bottom bunk).
  2. An area which can be regarded as belonging to a person privately, in which to place belongings etc.
    • 2008, Kia Abdullah, The Guardian, 1 May 2008:
      Like long-term couple Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, who famously live in separate houses, I believe that personal space is the key to a healthy relationship.