on the qui vive

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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.
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on the qui vive

on the alert or lookout.
The French expression qui vive? (used in English since the late 16th century) means literally ‘(long) live who?’ In former times a sentry would issue this challenge to someone approaching his post so as to ascertain where their allegiance lay.
1976 J. E. Weems Death Song They came in groups of four, five, or six—‘all on the qui vive , apprehensive of treachery, and ready to meet it’.
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on the qui ˈvive

paying close attention to a situation, in case something happens: He’s always on the qui vive for a business opportunity.
See also: on

on the qui vive

On the alert; vigilant: "a loathsome Dublin politico who is on the qui vive for ... terrorists" (Julian Moynahan).
See also: on
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