What does orphan mean?

Definitions for orphan
ˈɔr fənor·phan

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word orphan.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. orphannoun

    a child who has lost both parents

  2. orphannoun

    someone or something who lacks support or care or supervision

  3. orphannoun

    the first line of a paragraph that is set as the last line of a page or column

  4. orphanverb

    a young animal without a mother

  5. orphanverb

    deprive of parents


  1. orphannoun

    A person, especially a minor, both or (rarely) one of whose parents have died.

  2. orphannoun

    A young animal with no mother.

  3. orphannoun

    Anything that is unsupported, as by its source, provider or caretaker, by reason of the supporter's demise or decision to abandon.

  4. orphannoun

    A single line of type, beginning a paragraph, at the bottom of a column or page.

  5. orphannoun

    Any unreferenced abstract object.

  6. orphanverb

    To deprive of parents (used almost exclusively in the passive)

    What do you do when you come across two orphaned polar bear cubs?

  7. orphanverb

    To make unavailable, as by unlinking the last remaining pointer to.

  8. orphanadjective

    Deprived of parents (also orphaned).

    She is an orphan child.

  9. orphanadjective

    Remaining after the removal of some form of support.

    With its government funding curtailed, the gun registry became an orphan program.

  10. Etymology: From orphanus, from ὀρφανός, from Hórbʰo-. Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ, Latin orbus, Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe), ierfa. More at erf.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Orphanadjective

    Bereft of parents.

    Etymology: orphelin, Fr.

    This king left orphan both of father and mother, found his estate, when he came to age, so disjointed even in the noblest and strongest limbs of government, that the name of a king was grown odious. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

  2. ORPHANnoun

    A child who has lost father or mother, or both.

    Etymology: ὀϱϕανὸς; orphelin, Fr.

    Poor orphan in the wide world scattered,
    As budding branch rent from the native tree,
    And thrown forth until it be withered:
    Such is the state of man. Fairy Queen, b. ii.

    Who can be bound by any solemn vow
    To reave the orphan of his patrimony, To wring the widow from her custom’d right,
    And have no other reason for his wrong,
    But that he was bound by a solemn oath? William Shakespeare.

    Sad widows, by thee rifled, weep in vain,
    And ruin’d orphans of thy rapes complain. George Sandys.

    The sea with spoils his angry bullets strow,
    Widows and orphans making as they go. Edmund Waller.

    Pity, with a parent’s mind,
    This helpless orphan whom thou leav’st behind. Dryden.


  1. Orphan

    An orphan (from the Greek: ορφανός, romanized: orphanós) is a child whose parents have died.In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents due to death is called an orphan. When referring to animals, only the mother's condition is usually relevant (i.e. if the female parent has gone, the offspring is an orphan, regardless of the father's condition).


  1. orphan

    An orphan is a child whose parents are deceased, absent, or unknown, or who has been abandoned by their parents, leaving them without parental care or supervision. In this situation, the child may be placed under the care of guardians, foster homes, or orphanages. The criteria for being considered an orphan vary in different cultures and legal systems.


  1. Orphan

    An orphan is a child permanently bereaved of or abandoned by his or her parents. In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents is called an orphan. When referring to animals, only the mother's condition is usually relevant. If she has gone, the offspring is an orphan, regardless of the father's condition. Adults can also be referred to as orphans, or adult orphans. However, survivors who reached adulthood before their parents died are normally not called orphans. It is a term generally reserved for children whose parents have died while they are too young to support themselves.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Orphan

    or′fan, n. a child bereft of father or mother, or of both.—adj. bereft of parents.—v.t. to bereave of parents.—ns. Or′phanage, the state of being an orphan: a house for orphans; Or′phan-asy′lum; Or′phanhood, Or′phanism; Orphanot′rophy, the supporting of orphans. [Gr. orphanos, akin to L. orbus, bereaved.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. orphan

    [Unix] A process whose parent has died; one inherited by init(1). Compare zombie.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Orphan is ranked #91625 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Orphan surname appeared 201 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Orphan.

    87.5% or 176 total occurrences were White.
    6.9% or 14 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    2.4% or 5 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.

Matched Categories

How to pronounce orphan?

How to say orphan in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of orphan in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of orphan in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of orphan in a Sentence

  1. Brian Deschanel:

    A parentless child, is an orphan growing wildlife without nurture, guidance, and insecured like a rootless dying flower in vase.

  2. Prophet Mohammed:

    The best of the houses is the house where an orphan gets love and kindness.

  3. Unknown:

    Victory has 100 fathers, defeat is an orphan!

  4. Kathie Lee Gifford:

    Here's the bad news — I'm Kathie Lee Gifford, an orphan, and an empty-nester.

  5. Saturday KCNA:

    (The graduates of orphan schools) volunteered to work in major worksites for socialist construction out of their will to glorify their youth in the struggle for the prosperity of the country, they finished their school courses under the warm care of the mother Party.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for orphan

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for orphan »


Find a translation for the orphan definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"orphan." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/orphan>.

Discuss these orphan definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for orphan? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    involving or causing danger or risk; liable to hurt or harm
    A witless
    B dependable
    C dangerous
    D handsome

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for orphan: