fifth column

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From a 1936 radio address by Spanish Nationalist general Emilio Mola, in which he spoke of four of his army columns moving on Madrid and a quinta columna consisting of his militant supporters within the capital, intent on undermining the Republican government from within.

Noun[edit]

fifth column (plural fifth columns)

  1. (dated) A group of people which clandestinely undermines a larger group, such as a nation, to which it is expected to be loyal.

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