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From Late Latin diptycha, plural, from Ancient Greek, neuter plural of δίπτυχος (díptukhos, folded, doubled), from δι (di) + -πτυχος (-ptukhos) (akin to Greek πτυχή (ptychí, fold, layer)).



diptych (plural diptychs)

  1. A writing tablet consisting of two leaves of rigid material connected by hinges and shutting together so as to protect the writing within.
  2. (art) A picture or series of pictures painted on two tablets, usually connected by hinges.
  3. A double catalogue, containing in one part the names of living, and in the other of deceased, ecclesiastics and benefactors of the church.
  4. A catalogue of saints.
  5. Artistically-wrought tablets distributed by consuls, etc. of the later Roman Empire to commemorate their tenure of office; hence transferred to a list of magistrates
    • a. a literary work consisting of two contrasting parts (as a narrative telling the same story from two opposing points of view)
      "a diptych, a pastoral in which the author narrates the birth of Christ ... first as it has impressed the rich countryman Asveer, then as it has been seen by the skeptic Nicodemus" – François Closset
    • b. any work made up of two matching parts treating complementary or contrasting pictorial phases of one general topic
      "the first volume of a diptych Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert" – F.E. Egler
      A novel published in two volumes, the two forming one story (as opposed to a duology or dilogy).


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