take the fifth


[fifth or, often, fith]
next after the fourth; being the ordinal number for five.
being one of five equal parts.
Automotive. of, pertaining to, or operating at the gear transmission ratio at which the drive shaft speed is greater than that of fourth gear for a given engine crankshaft speed: fifth gear.
in the fifth place; fifthly.
a fifth part, especially of one (1/5).
the fifth member of a series.
a fifth part of a gallon of liquor or spirits; 4/5 (0.8) of a quart (about 750 milliliters).
Automotive. fifth gear.
a tone on the fifth degree from another tone (counted as the first).
the interval between such tones.
the harmonic combination of such tones.
take the Fifth, Informal. to decline on the basis of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. constitution to answer a question when testifying.

before 1000; earlier fift, Middle English fifte, Old English fīfta; -th by analogy with fourth, etc.

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fifth (fɪfθ)
1.  a.  coming after the fourth in order, position, time, etc. Often written: 5th
 b.  (as noun): he came on the fifth
2.  a.  one of five equal or nearly equal parts of an object, quantity, measurement, etc
 b.  (as modifier): a fifth part
3.  the fraction equal to one divided by five (1/5)
4.  music
 a.  the interval between one note and another five notes away from it counting inclusively along the diatonic scale
 b.  perfect diminished See also interval one of two notes constituting such an interval in relation to the other
5.  an additional high gear fitted to some motor vehicles
6.  Also: fifthly after the fourth person, position, event, etc
sentence connector
7.  Also: fifthly as the fifth point: linking what follows with the previous statements, as in a speech or argument
[Old English fīfta]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

M.E. fift, from O.E. fifta, from fif "five." Altered 14c. by infl. of fourth. Meaning "fifth part of a gallon of liquor" is first recorded 1938, Amer.Eng. Fifth Avenue (in New York City) has been used figuratively for "elegance, taste" since at least 1858. Fifth column is 1936, from Gen. Emilio Mola's
comment during the siege of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, that he would take the city with his "fifth column" (quinta columna) in the city as well as his four columns of troops outside it. Fifth wheel "superfluous person or thing" first attested 1631.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

fifth (fĭfth)

  1. Coming after fourth, as in order, rank, or time.

  2. Being the outermost digit, as on a hand.

fifth n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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