take the fifth

take the fifth


  1. next after the fourth; being the ordinal number for five.
  2. being one of five equal parts.
  3. Automotive. of, relating 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.


  1. in the fifth place; fifthly.


  1. a fifth part, especially of one (1/5).
  2. the fifth member of a series.
  3. a fifth part of a gallon of liquor or spirits; 4/5 (0.8) of a quart (about 750 milliliters).
  4. Automotive. fifth gear.
  5. Music.
    1. a tone on the fifth degree from another tone (counted as the first).
    2. the interval between such tones.
    3. the harmonic combination of such tones.


  1. take the Fifth, Informal. to decline on the basis of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to answer a question when testifying.

adjective (usually prenominal)

    1. coming after the fourth in order, position, time, etc. Often written: 5th
    2. (as noun)he came on the fifth


    1. one of five equal or nearly equal parts of an object, quantity, measurement, etc
    2. (as modifier)a fifth part
  1. the fraction equal to one divided by five (1/5)
  2. music
    1. the interval between one note and another five notes away from it counting inclusively along the diatonic scale
    2. one of two notes constituting such an interval in relation to the otherSee also perfect (def. 9), diminished (def. 2), interval (def. 5)
  3. an additional high gear fitted to some motor vehicles


  1. Also: fifthly after the fourth person, position, event, etc

sentence connector

  1. Also: fifthly as the fifth point: linking what follows with the previous statements, as in a speech or argument

adj.c.1200, fift, from Old English fifta, from fif “five” (see five) + -ta (see -th (1)). Altered 14c. by influence of fourth. Cf. Old Frisian fifta, Old Saxon fifto, Old Norse fimmti, Dutch vijfde, Old High German fimfto, German fünfte, Gothic fimfta. Noun meaning “fifth part of a gallon of liquor” is first recorded 1938, American English. Fifth Avenue (in New York City) has been used figuratively for “elegance, taste” since at least 1858. Fifth wheel “superfluous person or thing” first attested 1902. Fifth-monarchy-man, 17c. for “anrachist zealot,” is a reference to Dan. ii:44. adj.

  1. Coming after fourth, as in order, rank, or time.
  2. Being the outermost digit, as on a hand.

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] In addition to the idioms beginning with fifth

  • fifth column
  • fifth wheel
  • also see:

  • take the fifth
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