take the fifth (amendment)

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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

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
At his trial he refused to incriminate himself, taking the Fifth Amendment, which is exactly what he had sent the Hollywood Ten to prison for.
Mosteller, Simplifying Subpoena Law: Taking the Fifth Amendment Seriously, 73 Va.
The sight of executives taking the Fifth Amendment before Congress, or claiming that they knew nothing of corporate misbehavior while pocketing tens of millions of dollars or more in salaries, is a sad spectacle.
MSP John Young said: "I am taking the fifth amendment on that one.
But even with the tributes and standing ovations, Alatorre faced questions about federal investigations, his efforts to have the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pay some of his legal bills for taking the Fifth Amendment in an MTA lawsuit and his appointment to a $100,000-a-year state board job.
But I'm taking the Fifth Amendment about my total weight now.