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double jeopardy

A legal doctrine which holds that legal action cannot be taken twice against someone for the same offense. Yes, I know there's new evidence linking the chief financial officer to the embezzlement scheme, but he's already been tried for that. If we bring this new evidence against him now, the judge will toss it out as an instance of double jeopardy.
See also: double, jeopardy

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 columnist

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

fifth wheel

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.
See also: fifth, wheel

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!"
See also: fifth, plead

remember, remember, the fifth of November

A phrase associated with Guy Fawkes Day, November 5. Guy Fawkes was a conspirator in the thwarted Gunpowder Plot, which would have killed King James I and blown up Parliament on November 5, 1605. Primarily heard in UK. A: "What exactly is Guy Fawkes Day anyway?" B: "Ah, remember, remember, the fifth of November."
See also: fifth, of

take the fifth (amendment)

1. To refuse to testify against oneself in court, in accordance with the right guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights. The defendant took the fifth after every question the prosecution put to him. There is speculation that he will take the fifth amendment if he is asked about his actions under oath.
2. By extension, to refuse to answer a question or provide information, especially if doing so may incriminate or embarrass oneself. Just take the fifth if your mom asks where you've been all night! A: "So, I hear things got pretty messy at the party last night." B: "Yeah, I'm going to have to take the fifth amendment on that one!"
See also: fifth, take
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: fifth, wheel
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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 wheel

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."
See also: 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]
See also: fifth, take
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a fifth wheel

or

a third wheel

AMERICAN
A fifth wheel or a third wheel in a situation is someone who is not needed or wanted there. As a single person, you're somewhat of a third wheel when traveling with couples. I just wanted to feel like part of the family instead of a fifth wheel. I wanted to feel like I belonged! Note: A fifth wheel on a car or a third wheel on a bicycle would be unnecessary.
See also: fifth, wheel
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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

take the fifth

(in the USA) exercise the right of refusing to answer questions in order to avoid incriminating yourself.
The reference in this phrase is to Article V of the ten original amendments ( 1791 ) to the Constitution of the United States, which states that ‘no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself’.
See also: fifth, take
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

take/plead the ˈfifth

(American English) make use of the right to refuse to answer questions in court about a crime, because you may give information which will make it seem that you are guiltyFrom the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees this right.
See also: fifth, plead, take

a fifth/third ˈwheel

(American English) an unwanted, extra or unnecessary person: No, I don’t think I’ll join you. Whenever I go out with you guys I just feel like a fifth wheel.
This refers to adding an extra unnecessary wheel to a vehicle.
See also: fifth, third, wheel
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

fifth wheel

n. an extra and unneeded person. I feel like such a fifth wheel around here.
See also: fifth, wheel

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.
See also: fifth, take
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

fifth wheel

An unneeded extra, a superfluous person or thing. This expression was already listed as a proverb in the sixteenth century in a French collection; in its complete form it pointed out that the fifth wheel on a wagon does nothing but impede it (C. B. Bouelles, Proverbia Vulgaria, 1531). Thomas Dekker repeated it in a play (Match Me in London, 1631, Act I), again in fairly literal fashion: “Thou tyest but wings to a swift gray hounds heele, and addest to a running charriot a fift Wheele.” But it also was being used figuratively during this period, and has continued to be ever since.
See also: fifth, wheel
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
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