Fine Arts. a set of three panels or compartments side by side, bearing pictures, carvings, or the like.
a hinged, three-leaved tablet, written on, in ancient times, with a stylus.

Origin of triptych

1725–35; < Greek tríptychos of three plates, equivalent to tri- tri- + ptych- (stem of ptýx) plate + -os adj. suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for triptych

Contemporary Examples of triptych

  • And the evangelicals have been especially irked by the recent sale of a Francis Bacon triptych for an astounding $142 million.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Myth of the Tortured Artist

    Shane McAdams

    January 4, 2014

  • Everything is in motion, and the triptych panels often construct a narrative, like the frames of a film do.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Art's Obsessive Genius

    Paul Laster

    May 20, 2009

Historical Examples of triptych

  • It must be painted on a wooden case—I will show you the size—in the form of a triptych.


    George Eliot

  • A triptych of photos of Carolyn had always been on display on the mantelpiece.

    Next Door, Next World

    Robert Donald Locke

  • Designers and mural decorators have been using the triptych ever since that period.

    Industrial Arts Design

    William H. Varnum

  • The triptych was finished in 1472; it has unhappily disappeared.

    The Story of Brussels

    Ernest Gilliat-Smith

  • In the centre of the triptych is Mary enthroned, crowned by two angels.

British Dictionary definitions for triptych



a set of three pictures or panels, usually hinged so that the two wing panels fold over the larger central one: often used as an altarpiece
a set of three hinged writing tablets

Word Origin for triptych

C18: from Greek triptukhos, from tri- + ptux plate; compare diptych
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for triptych

1731, "hinged, three-leaved writing tablet used in ancient Greece and Rome," from Greek triptykhos "three-layered," from tri- "three" (see tri-) + ptykhos, genitive of ptyx "fold, layer." In reference to three-part altar-piece carvings or pictures hinged together, it is attested from 1849.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper