Simple Definition of triptych
: a picture (such as a painting) that has three panels placed next to each other
Full Definition of triptych
1 : an ancient Roman writing tablet with three waxed leaves hinged together
2a : a picture (as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by sideb : something composed or presented in three parts or sections; especially : trilogy
Did You Know?
A painted or carved triptych typically has three hinged panels, and the two outer panels can be folded in towards the central one. A literary or musical triptych generally consists of three closely related or contrasting themes or parts. Triptych derives from the Greek triptychos ("having three folds"), formed by combining "tri-" ("three") and "ptyche" ("fold" or "layer"). Although "triptych" originally described a specific type of Roman writing tablet that had three hinged sections, it is not surprising that the idea was generalized first to a type of painting, and then to anything composed of three parts.
Origin of triptych
Greek triptychos having three folds, from tri- + ptychē fold
First Known Use: 1731
Learn More about triptych
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about "triptych"
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up triptych? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).