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On the qui vive

Posted by Baceseras on March 25, 2008 at 16:22:

In Reply to: On the qui vive posted by Smokey Stover on March 24, 2008 at 22:14:

: : In the hilarious film "The Happiest Days Of Your Life"
: : Margaret Rutherford says: "If we both stay on the keeveeve..." I would suspect it means 'on the ball' however, I can't source this word anywhere? Incidentally this film has other words/prases: 'bruha' 'Ship shape and Bristol fashion' 'Shilly shally' etc.

: Yeah, that's the problem with films. They don't come with spellings.

: On the qui vive has been used since the 18th century to mean "on the alert" or "on the look-out." It comes from the challenge formerly used by French sentinels, who asked "Qui vive?" With the word order reversed it means, "Long live who?" Presumably it was intended to allow the sentinel to distinguish whether the other party was on the king's side (Vive le Roi) or someone else's (Vive la France).

: Brouhaha is a single word, found in any dictionary. For more about it you could go to:


: Ship-shape and Bristol fashion is dicussed in our Archive, as is (I imagine) shilly shally. The latter is also, I'm sure, in dictionaries.
: SS

I'm fond of that movie. I particularly like Margaret Rutherford's twee instruction to her charges after a late supper: "Now, up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire!"