fifth column was our Word of the Day on 10/01/2008. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of fifth column from the Web
Some Estonians view the Russian minority as a fifth column laying the groundwork for another Russian invasion.
It is deeply connected to the efforts of a fringe set of hate groups that see American Muslims as a fifth column bent on subverting the state.
Russia is also escalating its interference in the internal political life of the rest of Ukraine, including cyberattacks against government and business targets and the use of fifth columns.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fifth column.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Fifth column, a translation of the Spanish quinta columna, was inspired by a boast by rebel general Emilio Mola during the Spanish Civil War. Mola predicted Madrid would fall as four columns of rebel troops approaching the city were joined by another hidden column of sympathizers within it. In an October 1936 article in The New York Times, William Carney described those secret rebel supporters as the "fifth column," and English speakers seized upon the term. It gained widespread popularity after Ernest Hemingway used it in the title of a 1938 book, and it was often applied (along with derivative forms such as "fifth columnism" and "fifth columnist") to Nazi supporters within foreign nations during World War II.
Learn More about fifth column
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fifth column
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