qui vive

\ kē-ˈvēv How to pronounce qui vive (audio) \

Definition of qui vive

: alert, lookout used in the phrase on the qui vive They lived on the qui vive, always ready for a duel if their honor was in any way impugned.— James Michener

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Did You Know?

When a sentinel guarding a French castle in days of yore cried, Qui vive? your life depended upon your answer - the right one was usually something like "Long live the king!" The question the sentinel was asking was "Long live who?" but the act of calling out apparently impressed English listeners more than the meaning of the phrase, because when they adopted it in the early 1700s they used qui vive to mean "alert." Nowadays, the term is most often used in the phrase on the qui vive, meaning "on the lookout."

Examples of qui vive in a Sentence

an army on the qui vive for enemy attack

First Known Use of qui vive

1726, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for qui vive

French qui-vive, from qui vive? long live who?, challenge of a French sentry

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Dictionary Entries near qui vive


quiver tree


qui vive




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The first known use of qui vive was in 1726

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with qui vive

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Comments on qui vive

What made you want to look up qui vive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not constant or steady

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