Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A child whose parents are dead.
  • noun A child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted.
  • noun A young animal that has been prematurely separated from its parents or its mother.
  • noun One that lacks support, supervision, or care.
  • noun A technology or product that has not been developed or marketed, especially on account of being commercially unprofitable.
  • noun Printing A very short line of type at the bottom of a paragraph, column, or page.
  • adjective Deprived of parents.
  • adjective Intended for orphans.
  • adjective Lacking support, supervision, or care.
  • adjective Being a technology or product that is an orphan.
  • transitive verb To deprive (a child or young animal) of a parent or parents.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Bereft of parents; fatherless, motherless, or without either father or mother; bereaved: said of a child or a young and dependent person.
  • Not under control or protection analogous to that of a parent; unprotected; unassisted.
  • Of or belonging to a child bereft of either parent or of both parents.
  • noun A child bereaved of one parent or of both parents, generally the latter.
  • To reduce to the state of being an orphan; bereave of parents.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A child bereaved of both father and mother; sometimes, also, a child who has but one parent living.
  • noun (Law) a court in some of the States of the Union, having jurisdiction over the estates and persons of orphans or other wards.
  • adjective Bereaved of parents, or (sometimes) of one parent.
  • transitive verb To cause to become an orphan; to deprive of parents.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person, especially a minor, both or (rarely) one of whose parents have died.
  • noun A young animal with no mother.
  • noun figuratively Anything that is unsupported, as by its source, provider or caretaker, by reason of the supporter's demise or decision to abandon.
  • noun typography A single line of type, beginning a paragraph, at the bottom of a column or page.
  • noun computing Any unreferenced object.
  • adjective Deprived of parents (also orphaned).
  • adjective by extension, figuratively Remaining after the removal of some form of support.
  • verb transitive To deprive of parents (used almost exclusively in the passive)
  • verb transitive (computing) To make unavailable, as by unlinking the last remaining pointer to.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun someone or something who lacks support or care or supervision
  • noun a young animal without a mother
  • noun the first line of a paragraph that is set as the last line of a page or column
  • noun a child who has lost both parents
  • verb deprive of parents

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos, orphaned; see orbh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin orphanus, from Ancient Greek ὀρφανός (orphanos, "without parents, fatherless"), from Proto-Indo-European *Hórbʰo-. Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ (árbha), Latin orbus ("orphaned"), Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe ("heir")), Old English ierfa ("heir"). More at erf.

Support

Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word orphan.

Examples

  • She clenched her teeth and grimaced as if pronouncing the word orphan filled her mouth with castor oil.

    Brooke

  • She clenched her teeth and grimaced as if pronouncing the word orphan filled her mouth with castor oil.

    Brooke

  • It matters because the term orphan carries enormous emotional weight.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local

  • It matters because the term orphan carries enormous emotional weight.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local

  • It matters because the term orphan carries enormous emotional weight.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local

  • He was so sweet, but I was afraid that the moment he heard the word orphan, he would back away and pretend he never knew me.

    Butterfly

  • He was so sweet, but I was afraid that the moment he heard the word orphan, he would back away and pretend he never knew me.

    Butterfly

  • That was how Angela had first met Myles’s mother, three weeks after discovering the meaning of the word orphan herself.

    The Good House

  • The budgeteers claim $630 million in cuts from what are called "orphan earmarks," or construction that never started, and $2 billion more for transportation projects, some of which were likely to be canceled.

    Spending Cut Hokum

  • "My Year of Flops" covers some 50 underappreciated pictures; every troubled orphan is assessed and deemed a Failure, a Fiasco or a Secret Success.

    Book Review Roundup: Movie Flops, Reality TV And The Constitution

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Not to be mistaken for 'often'.

    August 20, 2008

  • "To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

    -Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

    July 29, 2009

  • saw the movie orphan and thats where i saw it

    October 31, 2010