trip·​tych | \ˈtrip-(ˌ)tik \

Definition of triptych 

1a : a picture (such as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by side

b : something composed or presented in three parts or sections especially : trilogy

2 : an ancient Roman writing tablet with three waxed leaves hinged together

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Triptych Has Greek Roots

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 ptychē ("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.

Examples of triptych in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

His original off-Broadway calling cards here were a triptych of his hit Chicago shows. Chris Jones,, "David Cromer a Tonys favorite for 'Band's Visit' — could you call this a giddy moment?," 7 June 2018 On display at every turn are major works from KAWS, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst, whose shark triptych and spot paintings are the centerpiece of the resort's Unknown bar. Melinda Sheckells, Billboard, "The Palms in Las Vegas Banks on Music, Art & A Nice View With $620M Renovation," 29 May 2018 Managing to feel at once painfully slow and bafflingly truncated, this creaky triptych of not-so-scary tales is a tame curiosity of movie nostalgia. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: A Paranormal Sleuth Investigates Three ‘Ghost Stories’," 19 Apr. 2018 Every mural, Tia says, tells a story, and the new one, a triptych, is about the aspirations of a neighborhood emerging from hard times. Crocker Stephenson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Better Angels: Tia Richardson's newest mural is one neighborhood's vision of better things to come," 5 July 2018 That image is also placed in a triptych of reproductions accompanied by a narrative interpreting the paintings as their features are illuminated. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West’ Review: Where the Sublime Joins the Melancholy," 25 June 2018 One is a triptych of three women unbuttoning and revealing their bras while seeming to almost fly. Anne Tschida, miamiherald, "Miami artist’s videos are known around the world. Now, locals can see them too.," 11 Jan. 2018 This book, together with two of Douthat’s previous books, is one part of a loose triptych about institutions in decline. New York Times, "11 New Books We Recommend This Week," 19 Apr. 2018 Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) In comparison to the Fifty Shades triptych, The Hunger Games original soundtracks are largely bleak, but the sequel outshines the other three. Jill Gutowitz, Billboard, "Ten 21st Century Sequel Soundtracks That Are Better Than the Original: Critic's Picks," 21 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'triptych.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of triptych

1731, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for triptych

Greek triptychos having three folds, from tri- + ptychē fold

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

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The first known use of triptych was in 1731

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English Language Learners Definition of triptych

: a picture (such as a painting) that has three panels placed next to each other

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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