on qui vive

qui vive

[kee veev]
(italics) French. who goes there?
on the qui vive, on the alert; watchful: Special guards were on the qui vive for trespassers.

1720–30; < French literally, (long) live who? (i.e., on whose side are you?)

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World English Dictionary
qui vive (ˌkiː ˈviːv)
on the qui vive on the alert; attentive
[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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

qui vive
1726, from Fr. qui voulez-vous qui vive? sentinel's challenge, "whom do you wish to live," lit. "(long) live who?" In other words, "whose side are you on?"
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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