trip·​tych | \ ˈtrip-(ˌ)tik How to pronounce triptych (audio) \

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

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 This triptych of novels published as one volume wears the genre of detective fiction like a shabby coat, trying it on, flipping it inside out and turning the pockets loose for spare change. Alice Mcdermott, New York Times, 22 June 2022 Orion Amphitheater announced its presence with authority, this past weekend with an opening triptych of concerts, dubbed The First Waltz. Matt Wake |, al, 16 May 2022 Razak showed me a triptych of photos from a research study that included sites in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, all taken five years after divers had assembled rock piles on the sea floor to create new reef habitat. Rowan Moore Gerety, Wired, 5 Apr. 2022 Her goal was a triptych of paintings that re-imagined the drip bag as personal totem. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Mar. 2022 Despite the wearying efforts of a likable cast headed by Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, the passage of 54 years is more than enough to reveal the triptych of one-act plays as uninhabitable in 2022. Jesse Green, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2022 The same could be said for a polished bronze triptych by Garnier & Linker, set on the marble counter. Rima Suqi, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 With the work of improvisational composer Alvin Curran as a guiding principle, Baudelaire creates a triptych that investigates the parallels between artistic theory and political practice. Lise Pedersen, Variety, 1 Mar. 2022 One of Ai’s most famous works is a photographic triptych of him dropping a Han-dynasty urn; the piece is reproduced at Kettle’s Yard in gray-scale Legos. Daniel Penny, The New Yorker, 27 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About triptych

Time Traveler for triptych

Time Traveler

The first known use of triptych was in 1731

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About triptych

Dictionary Entries Near triptych




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for triptych

Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Triptych.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on triptych

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for triptych Encyclopedia article about triptych


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!