fifth column


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to fifth column: fifth estate

fifth column

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.
See also: column, fifth

fifth column

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.
See also: column, fifth

fifth column

an organized group of people sympathizing with and working for the enemy within a country at war or otherwise under attack.
Fifth column is a translation of the Spanish phrase quinta columna : during the Spanish Civil War, an extra body of supporters was claimed by General Mola as being within Madrid when he besieged the city with four columns of Nationalist forces in 1936 .
See also: column, fifth
References in periodicals archive ?
For both Baker and Hanneman, that problematic The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories morphed into The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigla Edition, but not before we got The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War (TFC & 4 Stories).
In the spring of 1940 Saskatoon experienced in microcosm the North American paranoia about Hitler's fifth column.
What I know is that they are a fifth column and are extremists like Ahmadinejad or worse, and I do now understand why the people of the Gulf are concerned and are trying to protect themselves against internal and external foes.
But the fifth column, as per Rashi, rushed to embrace this, in the plural--these are the "powers" that brought you out of Egypt.
Israelis routinely refer to Arab-Israelis as a fifth column residing within what Tel Aviv describes as the Jewish state.
Downstairs he picks apart the slightly mad ramblings of dowser, diviner and occultist TC Lethbridge - the archetypal mad archaeologist - who was utterly convinced there was a German fifth column operating in rural Cambridgeshire.
Mugabe, the former guerrilla leader who has ruled the country since it gained independence in 1980, lost a referendum that would have allowed him to stay in power, he declared war against white farmers, accusing them of being a fifth column for former imperialist powers.
In case the public and taxpayers at large should be alarmed by the prospect of a fifth column supported by their funds, the apparent success of such a move should be put in perspective.
It was a pause that placed their fifth column in the West under cautionary notice, and provided the "useful idiots" (as Lenin called them) living in free western societies ample disinformation to sing praises of Marx's utopia.
Is the author, who writes about a fifth column of violent jihadists in the United States, a modern-day Paul Revere, riding into town to save the day, or Joseph McCarthy, wantonly tarnishing citizens' reputations with dubious claims?
They were worried that anti-British sentiment by Irish-Americans might be used by a German fifth column to foster sabotage and subversion in the United States.
The right-wing fifth column led by Fox News is trying to make hay out of the fact that they have a video of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi having difficulty operating an American automatic weapon and wearing sneakers.
In some respects, too much of the fourth estate seems to act like a fifth column in this country.
It has a serious illness, which is not just a fifth column but domination in the leadership by evangelical Christians who are not just ignoring, but trashing, the separation of church and state.
To see the American Communist Party chiefly as an instrument of espionage or a sort of Fifth Column misjudges its main purpose.