When you're on the qui vive, you're on the lookout for something, or you're being very alert and aware.
Part of speech:
It's a noun, but you don't really talk about "a qui vive" or "the qui vive."
You pretty much only use the phrase "on the qui vive."
The long but good-to-know backstory:
If you have some knowledge of French or Latin, you've probably noticed that "qui vive" literally means "who should live?". It's a phrase from 14th century France. A guard would shout this at whoever was approaching, and that person was supposed to answer something like "Long live the king!" as a way of identifying himself as a friend and not an enemy. So today, being on the qui vive is kind of like being that guard: watching for (and verifying) anything or anyone that comes close to you.
How to use it:
When you want to emphasize how someone is alert and watchful in a way that reminds you of a castle guard, say that person is "on the qui vive."
This phrase is often formal or emphatic, but you can also use it to be silly: "Kitty has been on the qui vive ever since the baby grabbed her tail."
Something might set you on the qui vive, put you on the qui vive, or keep you on the qui vive. And though it's usually a person (or a group of people)who's on the qui vive, you might also say that someone's senses, nerves, or mindis on the qui vive.
Lastly, although you usually just say "someone is on the qui vive" and leave it at that, you can also be on the qui vive for something: "She's on the qui vive for that important phone call."
Since we got rear-ended in traffic about a year ago, I'm constantly on the qui vive, checking my mirrors to see if anyone is following too closely.
Not exactly on the qui vive, the store greeter looked a bit dazed as she said good morning to me. It was maybe 4:00 pm.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "qui vive" means when you can explain it without saying "red alert" or "vigilant."
Think of a time you had to keep checking and double-checking something, and fill in the blank: "_____ kept/keeps me on the qui vive."
Example: "The ever-changing demands of the TSA keep me on the qui vive."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're sampling questions from Orijinz, an awesome series of games about the origins of words, phrases, and quotes. Click here if you want to check them out. They're compact--perfect for stockings. Just saying. :) Try a question here each day this month, and see the right answer the next day. Have fun!
"Guess the TV series [from these quotes]!
'[If a] homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don’t come crying to me.'
'Say no more! Say no more! Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge!'
'He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK, he sleeps all night and he works all day.'
'It’s passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker!'
Origin: This town in Hungary was the birthplace of the horse-drawn carriage. In the 19th century, this word also became college slang for 'teacher,' because teachers carry their students through exams.
Definition: A carriage; a low-priced class of transportation; to train or teach; someone who trains or teaches."
A Point Well Made:
Robert G. Ingersoll: “In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.”
2. _____ put the company time and again on the qui vive.
A. Continually increasing demand
B. Uncertainty in the market
C. Low employee turnover
Answers are below.>
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.