Definition of triptych in US English:



  • 1A picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece.

    ‘a triptych depicting the Crucifixion’
    • ‘Placed against the church's altar below the triptych with its fixed panels of the baptism, Lord's supper, and confession, the predella participates in the change from altar to table and shared meal of minister and people.’
    • ‘The central panel of this intact triptych altarpiece depicts the Mystic Marriage of St Catherine, together with other saints, flanked by donors.’
    • ‘But the central panel of the triptych is utterly traditional: Christ as the Man of Sorrows displaying his wounds, supported by the Virgin and St John, while a host of attendant angels carry the instruments of his Passion.’
    • ‘In the first version of the centre panel of the triptych, Bacon incorporated an unsettling, confrontational figure that peered back imperiously at the viewer through schematic binoculars.’
    • ‘This willful perversion of the prevailing practices of late medieval spiritual devotions is reinforced by Bosch's use of the very form traditionally devoted to altarpieces: the triptych.’
    1. 1.1 A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.
      ‘a triptych on the theme of the holocaust’
      ‘his triptych of one-act operas is unfairly neglected’
      • ‘Gordon's eighth work of fiction is a triptych of lives, a weaving of three histories that culminates in a few days of crisis.’
      • ‘With the cello suites and the solo violin sonatas and partitas, they form a triptych of Bach at his most concentrated and intimate.’
      • ‘The Third Symphony from 1950 is a musical triptych on the Life of Christ.’
      • ‘In the first part of the triptych, we can hear the woman talk to the driver in Finnish gibberish.’
      • ‘And so it is that this triptych of narratives involves prophetic individuals seeking a mystical connection with the world through creation.’
      • ‘Occasionally, two sections form a diptych - or three sections a triptych - that can stand alone, underscoring Tse's allusions to painting.’
      • ‘By no means am I insisting that these three paintings literally constitute a triptych, religious or otherwise.’
      • ‘While not as powerful as their influential triptych, these two films are still overripe offerings of cinematic salaciousness.’
      • ‘In several instances three works by separate artists are juxtaposed to look like a triptych in spite of their stylistic diversity.’
      • ‘In a triptych of first-person narratives, the story explores the complex and often contradictory emotions experienced by Simon and his friends as they struggle to come to terms with the knowledge that he will never walk again.’
      • ‘Maazel has previously written a pleasant violin concerto and an orchestral triptych.’
      • ‘Cash went to funding the research and first draft of a novel entitled Ice Angel - a triptych of connected stories set in Russia and Scotland.’
      • ‘The percentage of triptychs among the prints created by the artist is higher than by any other artist of the Meiji period.’
      • ‘Her painting career begins with a huge fantastical mural of historical, religious, and cultural imagery and ‘progresses’ to paintings of fractured worlds to diptychs and triptychs to a final sinister palimpsest.’
      • ‘That said, I don't feel that what the production team has devised here is always in the triptych's best theatrical interests.’
      • ‘This experimental triptych form also sets the novel apart from most working-class literature, which is usually far more ‘realist’ and formally conservative.’
      • ‘The only idea of mine that they used was the concept of doing a triptych, making up three posters that are part of one giant one.’
      • ‘His story is part of a triptych of stories that make up the plot of this novel.’
      • ‘Billed as a triptych of ghost plays, The Language of Angels begins with a group of eight close friends venturing down to the cozy mountain cave where they regularly party.’
      • ‘They're each so complete that they might have been left as novellas, but together make an impressive triptych.’


Mid 18th century (denoting a set of three writing tablets hinged or tied together): from tri- ‘three’, on the pattern of diptych.