• synonyms


[fifth or, often, fith]
  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.
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  1. in the fifth place; fifthly.
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  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.
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  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.
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Origin of fifth

before 1000; earlier fift, Middle English fifte, Old English fīfta; -th by analogy with fourth, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for take the fifth


adjective (usually prenominal)
    1. coming after the fourth in order, position, time, etc. Often written: 5th
    2. (as noun)he came on the fifth
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    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
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  1. Also: fifthly after the fourth person, position, event, etc
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sentence connector
  1. Also: fifthly as the fifth point: linking what follows with the previous statements, as in a speech or argument
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Word Origin for fifth

Old English fīfta
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for take the 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

take the fifth in Medicine


  1. Coming after fourth, as in order, rank, or time.
  2. Being the outermost digit, as on a hand.
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Related formsfifth n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with take the fifth

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]

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In addition to the idioms beginning with fifth

  • fifth column
  • fifth wheel

also see:

  • take the fifth
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.