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
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.
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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.
Origin and Etymology of fifth column
First Known Use: 1936See Words from the same year
Learn More about fifth column
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fifth column
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