Word of the Day : December 8, 2016

qui vive

play
noun kee-VEEV

Definition

: alert, lookout — used in the phrase on the qui vive

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

"All right. Lieutenant Howard, go see how the artillery wagons are managing, and on the way tell Major Mason that I need him again. Stay on the qui vive; you may find evidence of liquor." — William T. Vollmann, The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War, 2015

"Pasadena Heritage staged its Colorado Street Bridge Party July 16, and Police Chief Phillip Sanchez was clearly on the qui vive at the entrance to the bridge." — Patt Diroll, The Pasadena Star News, 24 July 2016



Test Your Vocabulary

What is the name for the enclosed lookout platform on a ship's mast?

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!