- a tone on the fifth degree from another tone (counted as the first).
- the interval between such tones.
- the harmonic combination of such tones.
Origin of fifth
adjective (usually prenominal)
- coming after the fourth in order, position, time, etc. Often written: 5th
- (as noun)he came on the fifth
- one of five equal or nearly equal parts of an object, quantity, measurement, etc
- (as modifier)a fifth part
Word Origin for fifth
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.
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]
In addition to the idioms beginning with fifth
- fifth column
- fifth wheel
- take the fifth