take the fifth






take the fifth

(in the USA) exercise the right of refusing to answer questions in order to avoid incriminating yourself

The reference in this phrase is to Article V of the ten original amendments(1791) to the Constitution of the United States which states that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.


RELATED IDIOMS :


fifth column

an organized group of people sympathizing with and working for the enemy within a country at war or otherwise under attack

Fifth column is a translation of the Spanish phrase quinta columna.

During the Spanish Civil War, an extra body of supporters was claimed by General Mola as being within Madrid when he besieged the city with four columns of Nationalist forces in 1936.




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