fifth column

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fifth column

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy's military and political aims.

[First applied in 1936 to rebel sympathizers inside Madrid when four columns of rebel troops were attacking that city.]

fifth col′um·nism (kŏl′əm-nĭz′əm) n.
fifth columnist n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

fifth column

1. (Historical Terms) (originally) a group of Falangist sympathizers in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War who were prepared to join the four columns of insurgents marching on the city
2. any group of hostile or subversive infiltrators; an enemy in one's midst
fifth columnist n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

fifth′ col′umn

1. a group of people who act traitorously and subversively out of a secret sympathy with an enemy of their country.
2. (originally) Franco sympathizers in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War: the insurgents had four columns marching on Madrid and a “fifth column” of supporters already in the city.
fifth′ col′umnist, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.fifth column - a subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotagefifth column - a subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotage; an enemy in your midst
social unit, unit - an organization regarded as part of a larger social group; "the coach said the offensive unit did a good job"; "after the battle the soldier had trouble rejoining his unit"
fifth columnist, saboteur - a member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sir Kim Chuck in a slimy Boris Johnson who sided with Trump against a British diplomat and the Brexit brigade's a fifth column in pursuit of personal riches and influence at the cost of the common good.
In which war did the term 'fifth column' originate?
'Is there some kind of 'fifth column' within the Cabinet that favors China's attempts to silence the issue, instead of trying to investigate the matter thoroughly and look after our fishermen?' she noted.
Hontiveros called on Cusi to apologize to the aggrieved fisherfolk and the entire nation lest he wants to be seen as a fifth column.
The Fifth Column, as many scholars have stated, is an anomaly in Ernest Hemingway's repertoire as the only full-length play the writer ever penned.
The Pentagon's new "Trojan Horse" warfare strategy, which is currently underway, would rely on "protest potential of the fifth column" to destabilize the situation in the countries with unwanted governments.
The last thing the country needs now is violence at the hands of unruly mobs, or for a fifth column serving foreign interests to take advantage of the precarious situation.
Indeed, the Armenian organized crime groups in Kazakhstan are the "fifth column" in the country.
FIFTH COLUMN class="MsoNormalMystery still surrounds the "Handshake".
The opposition parties and a "fifth column" within the regime were distorting the image of the Rapid Support Forces through spreading the fake news, he said.
The fifth column's other star spy was an Austrian, Hans Kohout, who winkled out top-secret information on a new de Havilland fighter-bomber; he also got wind of a prototype anti-radar system known as "Window" when the Air Ministry approached his company to manufacture aluminium strips.