As I am wanting to buy one of these, I'd like to know the actual name of it.

enter image description here

The name for a 3-part art piece seems to be "triptych" (translated via google from "triptychon").

Through some googleing I found "pentaptych" which doesn't seem to be correct as "pentateuch" is always suggested, but that seems to be specifically for the 5 books of Moses.

So the question remains: What is the right name for pieces of art that consist of 5 parts?

  • I see that the tag might be wrong as the question doesn't fulfill the requirements, but I couldn't find a better fitting tag. If you think another tag fits better, feel free to update. Or might the question be a better fit for another SE? Jan 15, 2020 at 9:30
  • It's just fine.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 15, 2020 at 9:37

2 Answers 2


The right word is indeed pentaptych.

The ptych part is directly from the Greek πτυχή=fold — usually these things fold on hinges. Penta- is the combining form for "five" in Greek.

There are a number of similar words: diptych (two parts); triptych; tetraptych; pentaptych; hexaptych; heptaptych, and so on. The hypernym is polyptych, (poly=many).

OED does include pentaptych, but marks it as "rare", so it's not really surprising that Google wants to search for Pentateuch instead.

OED also says that the pronunciation is "pentaptic", but I've never heard anything but /-tʃ/ for any of these words, and "pentaptitch" doesn't really show that the "pt" belong together from the Greek πτ. I would prefer a pronunciation of /ˈpɛntəˌtɪtʃ/ "pentatitch" (treating pt- as it is in pterasaur).

  • 1
    Regarding pronunciation. For diptych and triptych, dictionaries (e.g. Merriam-Webster) have a syllable break between the /p/ and /t/, and the final sound is /k/ (which is the usual sound in words from ancient Greek with chi/"ch"). "pentaptych" is so seldom spoken it can hardly be considered to have a usual pronunciation other than following these examples.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 15, 2020 at 10:30
  • In diptych and triptych, the syllable immediately preceding -pt- is stressed. In pentaptych, it's not. That can change things.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 15, 2020 at 10:35
  • Perhaps [pɛn'tæptɪk] for pentaptych is credible. English stress often doesn't respect morpheme boundaries: cf ['hɛli,kɒptə] for helicopter and [pɛn'tægənəl] for pentagonal. Admittedly [ptɪk] is only one syllable, unlike "gonal", but perhaps it is so heavy that it's more natural to stress the previous vowel than the vowel before that. Cf [sɪ'næptɪk] for synaptic.
    – Rosie F
    Jan 15, 2020 at 11:35
  • The -pt- in synaptic is not the same as in pentaptych, because that's synap- from synapsis and -tic. Stressing the middle syllable in pentaptych grossly distorts the word, I feel (helicopter notwithstanding).
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 15, 2020 at 11:39
  • Do you mean you’ve only ever heard triptych with a final /tʃ/? That’s very surprising to me – I don’t recall ever hearing it pronounced as anything other than /ˈtrɪptɪk/. I’ve never come across pentaptych before, but it’s immediately understandable, and I would instinctively pronounce it /ˈpɛntəpˌtɪk/. I don’t think I’d immediately understand /ˈpɛntəˌtɪtʃ/ if I heard it spoken. Jan 15, 2020 at 14:59

I think Polyptych is the more general word … Looking from there you can find names for some specific number of pieces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyptych

Pentaptych is the one with five panels or pieces, it seems…

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