Definition of diptych in English:



  • 1A painting, especially an altarpiece, on two hinged wooden panels which may be closed like a book.

    • ‘In each auxiliary altar, diptychs display the most prominent saints.’
    • ‘The painting, divided in half vertically, resembles a diptych.’
    • ‘Triptychs and diptychs in good condition are more sought after.’
    • ‘It is therefore difficult even for an expert to recognize if a single sheet print was originally part of a diptych or a triptych.’
    • ‘David Bierk's long romance with art history was evident in this show of 21 oil paintings, mostly diptychs and triptychs, which included, among other things, reproductions of specific well-known paintings.’
    • ‘The names of the two families are preserved on the two leaves of an ivory diptych, respectively in the Victoria and Albert, and Cluny, Museums.’
    • ‘Featured are 29 oils, including two diptychs (the largest being 66 by 108 inches), and six smaller gouaches that span a period of 30 years.’
    • ‘For that reason one is amused rather than taken aback by a Flemish diptych of the turn of the fifteenth century from the Catharijneconvent in Utrecht.’
    • ‘Though he painted altarpieces and other religious panels (the only signed work is a diptych with the Carrying of the Cross and Vanitas, 1560; Bonn, Rheinisches Landesmus.), he is best known for his portraits.’
    • ‘But in the 14th century it quickly spread over western Europe and was freely used in the decoration of chalices, crosses, diptychs, and other objects of religious use as well as for domestic plate and jewellery.’
    • ‘Adorned with pearls, distracted or in reverie, a plump child with pointed ears and a pale blue face graces one panel of Diane's Puppies as though unaware of her companion at play in the other panel of the diptych.’
    • ‘Altarpieces and private devotional diptychs were commissioned from the painters de Beaumetz, Jean Malouel, Henri Bellechose, and Melchior Broederlam, all of whom were court painters at various times.’
    • ‘The painting may originally have served as the left panel of a small-scale portable diptych - the right side would have depicted a donor in adoration.’
    • ‘They are usually found in the form of triptychs or diptychs.’
    • ‘All of them are diptychs assembled from four squares of wood about a half-inch thick.’
    • ‘In 1864, Kunisada died and Kunichika designed two memorial prints - one as a diptych - of the deceased master.’
  • 2An ancient writing tablet consisting of two hinged leaves with waxed inner sides.


Early 17th century: via late Latin from late Greek diptukha ‘pair of writing tablets’, neuter plural of Greek diptukhos ‘folded in two’, from di- ‘twice’ + ptukhē ‘a fold’.