take/plead the Fifth

idiom
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of take/plead the Fifth

chiefly US
: to refuse to answer questions in a court of law because the answers might be harmful to one or might show that one has committed a crime
  • When called to testify, he took the Fifth.
often used figuratively
  • He took the Fifth when his wife asked him where he'd spent the night.
Note: The phrase take/plead the Fifth refers to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says that citizens of the U.S. cannot be required to give testimony that could be used against them in a court of law.

Word by Word Definitions

take play
  1. : to get into one's hands or into one's possession, power, or control: such as

  2. : to seize or capture physically

  3. : to get possession of (fish or game) by killing or capturing

  1. : a distinct or personal point of view, outlook, or assessment

  2. : an act or the action of taking: such as

  3. : the uninterrupted photographing or televising of a scene

plead play
  1. : to argue a case or cause in a court of law

  2. : to make an allegation in an action or other legal proceeding

  3. : to conduct pleadings

fifth play
  1. : one that is number five in a series — see Table of Numbers

  2. : the musical interval embracing five diatonic degrees

  3. : a tone at this interval


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