Definition of fifth column noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


fifth column

BrE BrE//ˌfɪfθ ˈkɒləm//
; NAmE NAmE//ˌfɪfθ ˈkɑːləm//
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a group of people working secretly to help the enemy of the country or organization they are in Word OriginThe term dates from the Spanish Civil War, when General Mola, leading four columns of troops towards Madrid, declared that he had a fifth column inside the city.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: fifth column