Fifth Column Definition

A group of people who aid the enemy from within their own country.
Webster's New World

Other Word Forms of Fifth Column


fifth column
fifth columns

Origin of Fifth Column

  • From a 1936 radio address by Spanish Nationalist general Emilio Mola, in which he spoke of four of his army columns moving on Madrid and a quinta columna consisting of his militant supporters within the capital, intent on undermining the Republican government from within.

    From Wiktionary

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

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

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