One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A painted or carved altarpiece, etc., consisting of five hinged panels (usually a central piece and two folding pieces on each side).
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Frederick William Fairholt (d. 1866), artist and antiquary. From penta- + ancient Greek πτυχή fold (of unknown origin), after diptych, triptych.
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