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At the ready vs In readiness

at the ready—(of a weapon) in readiness for immediate use:

  • He stalked along, one hand swinging free, the other with his machete held at the ready.

in readiness

1. in a ready or prepared state:

  • Stacks of “no parking” cones were dotted in readiness round the village.

2. ready or prepared to do smth.:

  • The admiral gave orders for the troops to be in readiness to land.