I rather like this construct, as exemplified by “a three-pronged approach to physical therapy” (or four-pronged, or whatever). However, I tend to use it too much, and I am wondering how I could replace it by other short constructs with the same meaning. So, I wonder:

  • Does “a three-fold approach to…” have the same meaning? I think it does, as my dictionary says of the -fold suffix: “consisting of so many parts or facets”.
  • Do you know other ways to express this in only two or three words? It being a short adjectival phrase is useful to me.

3 Answers 3


How about "tripartite"? There is also "bipartite" for two, but it doesn't generalize to higher numbers.


You could say a multi-pronged approach.

The -fold suffix is reliable. See my answer to a different question.

You could also refer to different fronts:

We'll approach the therapy on three fronts.

This comes from military terminology (as does pronged, I believe). You can also use these words with attack as the verb.

Or you could simply use parts:

We took a three-part approach to the patient's therapy.

And finally there is facet.

We took a multi-faceted approach to the patient's therapy.

  • Sorry for the confusion, I wasn't looking for a substitute for generic n, just with a specific value like three. I've edited the question accordingly.
    – F'x
    Mar 19, 2011 at 12:21
  • Several parts of my answer cover use of specific values as well. Do see the link to the -fold answer as well.
    – Robusto
    Mar 19, 2011 at 12:23

I suggest "trident" (2 distinct syllables). As an adjective, "tri-dent" (meaning "three toothed" or "three pronged") gives the exact meaning you want in a very compact form: "His trident approach to the problem proved very effective".

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