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

Did you know?

When a sentinel guarding a French castle in days of yore cried, "Qui vive?," your life depended upon your answer. The question the sentinel was asking was "Long live who?" The correct answer was usually something like "Long live the king!" Visitors not answering the question this way were regarded as suspect, and so to be "on the qui vive" meant to be on the alert or lookout, and qui vive came to mean "alert" or "lookout" soon afterward. 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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1726, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of qui vive was in 1726


Dictionary Entries Near qui vive

Cite this Entry

“Qui vive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qui%20vive. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

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