qui vive

[kee veev]
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Idioms
  1. on the qui vive, on the alert; watchful: Special guards were on the qui vive for trespassers.

Origin of qui vive

1720–30; < French: literally, (long) live who? (i.e., on whose side are you?)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


British Dictionary definitions for on the qui vive

qui vive

noun
  1. on the qui vive on the alert; attentive

Word Origin for qui vive

C18: from French, literally: long live who?, sentry's challenge (equivalent to "To whose party do you belong?" or "Whose side do you support?")
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for on the qui vive

qui vive

1726, in on the qui vive "on the alert," from French qui voulez-vous qui vive? sentinel's challenge, "whom do you wish to live," literally "(long) live who?" In other words, "whose side are you on?" (The answer might be Vive la France, Vive le roi, etc.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with on the qui vive

on the qui vive

On the alert, vigilant, as in The police have been warned to be on the qui vive for terrorists. This expression, containing the French words for “[long] live who?” originated as a sentinel's challenge to determine a person's political sympathies. The answer expected of allies was something like vive le roi (“long live the king”). It was taken over into English with its revised meaning in the early 1700s, the first recorded use being in 1726.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.