Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to fifth: Fifth Avenue, fifth disease, fifth estate
A clandestine group of people who work subversively within a group, organization, or country in order to betray it to an allied outside force. In the US during the Cold War, there was constant fear and suspicion of people supposedly working in a fifth column to spread the influence of communism from within.
A member of a clandestine group of people who work subversively within a group, organization, or country in order to betray it to an allied outside force. In the US during the Cold War, there was constant fear and suspicion of people supposedly working as fifth columnists to spread the influence of communism from within.
See also: fifth
plead the Fifth (Amendment)
1. To refuse to testify against oneself in court, in accordance with the rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The alleged kingpin of the east coast drug cartel simply pled the Fifth after every question the prosecution put to him.
2. By extension, to refuse to answer a question or provide information, especially if doing so may incriminate or embarrass oneself. Just plead the Fifth if your mom asks where you've been all night! A: "So, I hear things got pretty messy at the bar last night." B: "Yeah, I'm going to have to plead the Fifth Amendment on that one!"
Someone who has no real place or purpose in a situation, likened to a superfluous extra wheel on a four-wheeled vehicle. I didn't realize that the party was for couples only, so when I showed up alone, I felt like a fifth wheel.
Fig. an unwelcome or extra person. I don't like living with my son and daughter-in-law. I feel like a fifth wheel. Bill always begs to come on camping trips with us, but really, he's a fifth wheel.
take the fifth (amendment)also plead the fifth (amendment)
to avoid answering a question, esp. that could cause embarrassment I plead the fifth - I don't know where your girlfriend went!
Etymology: based on the Fifth Amendment of the US Bill of Rights which says you do not have to answer questions about yourself in a court if your answers could show you are involved in a criminal activity
I take/plead the Fifth (Amendment)(American humorous)
something that you say in order to tell someone you are not going to answer a questionSee a fifth wheel
Usage notes: The Fifth Amendment is the part of American law that says someone does not have to answer questions about themselves in a law court.(sometimes + on ) 'So who do you like best, Jenny or Kim?' 'Sorry, I take the Fifth on that.'
a fifth/third wheel(American)
someone who is in a situation where they are not really needed or are ignored by other people I don't have a role in the office any more - I feel like a fifth wheel.
A secret subversive group that works against a country or organization from the inside, as in The government feared that there was a fifth column working to oppose its policies during the crisis . This term was invented by General Emilio Mola during the Spanish Civil War in a radio broadcast on October 16, 1936, in which he said that he had una quinta columna ("a fifth column") of sympathizers for General Franco among the Republicans holding the city of Madrid, and it would join his four columns of troops when they attacked. The term was popularized by Ernest Hemingway and later extended to any traitorous insiders.
An extra and unnecessary person or thing, as in He was the only one without a date, so he felt like a fifth wheel. This expression, which alludes to an unneeded wheel on a four-wheel vehicle, may have originated as long ago as 1631, when Thomas Dekker wrote Match Me in London: "Thou tiest but wings to a swift gray Hounds heel, And addest to a running Chariot a fifth wheel."
take the Fifth
Refuse to answer on the grounds that one may incriminate oneself, as in He took the Fifth on so many of the prosecutor's questions that we're sure he's guilty. This idiom refers to the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself or herself. [Mid-1900s]
n. an extra and unneeded person. I feel like such a fifth wheel around here.
take the fifth
1. and five it tv. to refuse to testify to a U.S. legislative committee under the protection of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The lawyer just sat there and said, “Five it” after every question.
2. tv. to decline to answer any questions. I’ll take the fifth on that one. Ask Fred.