Definition of fifth in English:


ordinal number

  • 1Constituting number five in a sequence; 5th.

    ‘the fifth century BC’
    ‘her mother had just given birth to another child, her fifth’
    ‘the world's fifth-largest oil exporter’
    ‘the fifth of November’
    • ‘He looked at his watch for what seemed to be the fifth time in five minutes.’
    • ‘The ‘mountain’ is named for the patron saint of Paris, who founded a convent there towards the end of the fifth century.’
    • ‘The final independent invention of zero in India was long debated by scholars, but seems to be set around the middle of the fifth century.’
    • ‘Additional miscellaneous activities are also frequent apart from these major groupings, and can constitute a fifth category.’
    • ‘That day, when Ally had yet again defended his talent, he pitched horribly; giving up three runs in the fourth inning and another five in the fifth inning.’
    • ‘The fifth day of a five day forecast is accurate 20% of the time and these guys are gonna tell me what the weather will be like a hundred years from now?’
    • ‘Joe Nathan got the final two outs for his fifth save in five opportunities.’
    • ‘One of the most romantic ruins in Wiltshire, the castle was built in the late 14th century by the fifth Lord Lovel.’
    • ‘Beware, though, as some allow only a limited number of region switches such that after perhaps five toggles, the fifth region code becomes fixed on the drive.’
    • ‘Seems I'm moving desks again - the fifth time in five years, which makes for a nice round average.’
    • ‘This is now the fifth day, five days on, and we are waiting to know what happened to him and I, his mother, I need to know what happened to Anthony.’
    • ‘There were 39 brands of light vehicles for sale in 1986, the fifth best year on record.’
    • ‘The apartment was on the fifth floor of a five story brick building in a part of town that had once been much grander than it was now.’
    • ‘These markets and institutions have changed dramatically in the five years since the fifth edition was published.’
    • ‘By June 1806 Bowditch had read the first four of Laplace's five volumes (the fifth volume was not published by Laplace until 1825).’
    • ‘They simply ran out of steam in the second half to slump to their fifth defeat out of five, a record that consigns them to the wooden spoon, their first wooden spoon in the competition since 2002.’
    • ‘The starting point for the language that became English, and for his book, is the arrival in England in the fifth century of Germanic warrior tribes.’
    • ‘It was a subtle touch, one I didn't notice until the opening sequence of the fifth episode - and by then it was too late.’
    • ‘In the 1990s the first woman Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, for example, was the critical fifth vote in more five to four decisions than anybody else.’
    • ‘After three minutes his sharp pass to Broadbent saw the ball quickly moved on to Mark Cain, who notched his fifth try in five games.’
    • ‘In the fifth month you have five pairs (because the first pair of babies has become old enough to reproduce).’
    1. 1.1The fifth finisher or position in a race or competition.
      ‘he finished fifth’
      • ‘Co-captain Mike Logue earned OUA all-star status at the competition with a fifth place finish, the highest by a Warrior.’
      • ‘This created the strange statistic that City finished fifth bottom, but they actually had a positive goal difference.’
      • ‘At the Leinster Schools held in Dublin, Cheryl Nolan won gold in the junior 1,500m and Sinead Kelly competing in the same race finished a credible fifth place.’
      • ‘We were ranked fifth going into the race and came out third with a new British record.’
      • ‘The club expects strong competition for the fifth spot.’
      • ‘Clach climbed five places into fifth spot after a wash out in the Highland League, with a 2-0 triumph over north rivals Fort William.’
      • ‘Jane, who was fifth last year, led the way for Knavesmire to collect the ladies team prize by taking runner-up slot in 84-31.’
      • ‘One of our brave lads, Andrew Homan, went over the side and made short work of the net with a knife, but it cost us 25 minutes, finishing that race in fifth place in a dying wind.’
      • ‘He piloted his race car to a fifth place finish in race two of the weekend.’
      • ‘Without the drive-through penalty, Christian would have finished the race in fifth or sixth place.’
      • ‘He has risen from the fifth best-placed Australian to being their top ranked player and if he can maintain his remarkable run, it will only be a short time before he climbs into the top ten.’
      • ‘But fifth place, five seconds behind the American, will have given him a huge boost in confidence for the tests that lie ahead.’
      • ‘A five-way competition for the fifth spot in the rotation has no real front-runner.’
      • ‘Her best this season in four races was a fifth place in Germany which left her in seventh place overall in the rankings.’
      • ‘Like all of the fastest cars at Michigan, he came up short in the fuel mileage game but still raced to a fifth place finish.’
      • ‘The winner gets 15 points, the second 10, the third is awarded seven, the fourth gets five and the fifth earns three.’
      • ‘Emmett ran a good race to finish in fifth place with a ‘Personal Best’ of 4 minutes 2 seconds.’
      • ‘He finished the race in fifth place having started from 16th position on the grid.’
      • ‘Assuming Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, John Lackey, and Aaron Sele stay around, it could be quite a race for the fifth spot.’
      • ‘He rejoined the race in sixth place but fought back to finish in fifth place and had to settle for picking up championship points.’
    2. 1.2(in some vehicles) the fifth (and typically highest) in a sequence of gears.
      ‘in my panic I changed from third to fifth’
      • ‘And in fifth gear it simply didn't have enough oomph to overcome gravity.’
      • ‘Forget swanning along in top or even fifth gear all day.’
      • ‘I found this engine a bit on the small side, but that is just a personal thing as it is more than capable of motorway cruising and has enough power for overtaking, even in fifth.’
      • ‘These figures are achieved high in the rev range, and with a fairly relaxed fifth gear a quick shift back to fourth is needed for quick overtaking.’
      • ‘At some point, you'll end up selecting fifth instead of third.’
      • ‘Once he was in fifth gear he just cruised, hardly paying attention to his surroundings.’
      • ‘Despite being geared to reach its top speed in the fifth of its seven gears, you can never quite escape the V10's voice.’
      • ‘Outside built up areas, the car can be driven on just two gears, fourth and fifth, so flexible is the engine.’
      • ‘Brett Sales yanked the Cavalier's gear down from fifth into fourth to overtake the van in front of him before he reached the next roundabout.’
      • ‘You long for the moment when you can cut the din by going into fifth… but when you do, you find yourself on another hill, virtually grinding to a halt.’
    3. 1.3British The fifth form of a school or college.
      • ‘In the Construction Studies room fifth and sixth class primary school visitors will be able to participate in a wood class helped by the present first years.’
      • ‘When the fun was over, the children thanked Peter Millen and fifth class teacher Maria Walsh for organising the event for them.’
    4. 1.4Fifthly (used to introduce a fifth point or reason)
      ‘fourth, it can aid the process of life review, and fifth, it is an enjoyable and stimulating experience’
    5. 1.5Music An interval spanning five consecutive notes in a diatonic scale, in particular (also perfect fifth) an interval of three tones and a semitone (e.g. C to G)
      ‘strings tuned a fifth apart’
      • ‘The strings of a four-string cello are usually tuned in fifths.’
      • ‘Notes separated by intervals of a perfect fifth and a perfect fourth have always been the most important ‘consonances’ in western music.’
      • ‘The notes in a perfect fifth, for example, have a frequency ratio 3: 2.’
      • ‘And several times in the book a diminished fifth rather than an augmented fourth is called a tritone.’
      • ‘Open fifths, fourths and tritones, modality and whole-tone scales abound.’
    6. 1.6Music The note which is higher by a fifth than the root of a diatonic scale.
      • ‘The final movement is based on chords of parallel fifths.’
      • ‘The third of a triad may be emphasized above its root or fifth to create a ‘sweeter’ quality in a dolce passage.’
      • ‘Wonderful old songs, and slowly my fingers get used to playing blues scales, blue notes and the squashed sliding thirds and fifths of this old music fusing Irish, Scottish, French, African and English melodies.’
      • ‘The crisp phrases of the robust seventeen-bar ground, with its harmonically stable fourths and fifths and harmonious consort of bass and triadic chords, clearly assert the traditional lineaments of the form.’
    7. 1.7US informal A fifth of a gallon, as a measure of alcoholic drink, or a bottle of this capacity.
      ‘a fifth of whisky’
      • ‘This is really good news for us, ladies: If we have to run around in those ridiculous outfits, at least we can still take the edge off with a fifth of vodka.’
      • ‘Witnesses later confirmed Bill stopped at the liquor store at the county line and downed a fifth of whiskey before driving into town.’
      • ‘With some help from the others, Sal buys a fifth of whiskey to share.’
      • ‘Should I just down a fifth of vodka and go to sleep for several hours, and hope they are back by the time I lapse out of unconsciousness?’
      • ‘While at the party, I managed to polish off a fifth of Jose in less than two hours, so I had a few minutes of relative coherence before I sailed off into oblivion.’
      • ‘He had as good a chance of chipping into my drinking money as a Central Park wino hitting up the president of the Anti-Saloon League for a fifth of bourbon.’
      • ‘Dog-Eyes had pulled a fifth of whiskey from his coat and was offering her a hit.’
      • ‘Rock had downed eight, Ally seven and they'd also gone through a bottle of wine and half of a fifth of vodka.’
      • ‘The first thing he did was stop in a liquor store to buy a fifth of rye whiskey.’
      • ‘We have enough left to splurge on a fifth of Captain Morgan's and a case of Black Label.’
      • ‘Much of the crowd appeared dumbfounded as Franken took the microphone and sounded like he'd just downed a fifth and maybe smoked a little something, too.’
      • ‘I guess shelter should be my first priority, and then about a fifth of some liquor that tastes about as nasty as it smells.’
  • 2Each of five equal parts into which something is or may be divided.

    • ‘The report said that in West Virginia, the average income of the middle fifth of families increased five percent, which amounts to about $1,640.’
    • ‘And one of the county's commerce bosses claims one in five employers say a fifth of all current job vacancies cannot be filled because of skills shortages.’
    • ‘Imagine if Social Security reform brings the proportion of Americans holding financial assets from half to three quarters or four fifths.’
    • ‘Birth weight for gestational age, divided into fifths, showed an association with later marital status for men but not women.’
    • ‘‘Everyone knows that the population has been reduced by a fifth to a quarter,’ writes Glucksmann.’
    • ‘Their average length of stay in care is two to five years while one fifth stay for ten tears or more.’
    • ‘Because measures of skinfold thickness varied significantly by sex we divided the distribution into fifths for men and women and used these in the analyses.’
    • ‘Its research shows that a fifth of the motorists who were aware of the change in the law were wrong in their knowledge of exactly what this would comprise.’
    • ‘So, two fifths of your starting five are not attending camp on time, 1 / 5th, not at all.’
    • ‘Mr Edkins is aware that last summer only a fifth of pupils gained five or more A to C GCSE grades - the second worst in the city.’
    • ‘One fifth of the nearly five million unemployed voted Left Party - that's averaged across East and West.’
    • ‘The number of organ transplants carried out in Scotland has dropped by almost a fifth in the past five years because of a growing shortage of suitable donors.’
    • ‘Over a fifth of Google's five thousand employees are based in the municipality.’
    • ‘We divided participants into fifths according to their intake of each type of fat.’
    • ‘Rotherham is hoping to shrug off its unenviable title of the car crime capital of South Yorkshire with a new crackdown that aims to slash vehicle crime by a fifth.’
    • ‘We'll divide the group into fifths, according to annual expenses.’
    • ‘Wages in the Czech Republic are about a fifth to a quarter of the wages paid in Germany.’
    • ‘One carat equals one fifth of a gram or 0.2 grams.’
    • ‘Within 5 years, it will probably only take up a quarter or a fifth.’
    • ‘The cost of the vehicle is about a fifth of the price of a tram - about £1.7m.’


  • take (or plead) the fifth

    • (in the US) exercise the right, guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, of refusing to answer questions in order to avoid incriminating oneself.

      ‘I'm sure his lawyers are telling him to take the Fifth’
      • ‘You may have seen him taking the fifth before Congress.’
      • ‘At this point one might want to take the fifth, although this stage is optional.’
      • ‘Her taking the fifth amendment will be the story until the war starts.’
      • ‘Four years ago in Nagano, Japan, remember, Team Canada finished fourth and Team USA took the fifth - at least when it came to explaining how the furniture in the athletes' village got trashed.’
      • ‘Does that order to cooperate amount to a bar on White House employees taking the fifth with investigators?’
      • ‘Lawyers note that having your lawyer send the message that you will take the fifth can often get you out of a grand jury appearance altogether or at least be the opening gambit in a negotiation with a prosecutor.’
      • ‘Although I might not remember exactly what was said or done while in my true form, or any other guised form, I do know when someone is taking the fifth, if you follow what I am saying.’