a child who has lost both parents through death, or, less commonly, one parent.
a young animal that has been deserted by or has lost its mother.
a person or thing that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc.: The committee is an orphan of the previous administration.
(especially in word processing) the first line of a paragraph when it appears alone at the bottom of a page.
widow ( def 3b ).
bereft of parents.
of or for orphans: an orphan home.
not authorized, supported, or funded; not part of a system; isolated; abandoned: an orphan research project.
lacking a commercial sponsor, an employer, etc.: orphan workers.
verb (used with object)
to deprive of parents or a parent through death: He was orphaned at the age of four.
Informal. to deprive of commercial sponsorship, an employer, etc.: The recession has orphaned many experienced workers.

1425–75; late Middle English (noun) < Late Latin orphanus destitute, without parents < Greek orphanós bereaved; akin to Latin orbus bereaved

orphanhood, noun
half-orphan, noun
unorphaned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To orphans
World English Dictionary
orphan (ˈɔːfən)
1.  a.  a child, one or (more commonly) both of whose parents are dead
 b.  (as modifier): an orphan child
2.  printing the first line of a paragraph separated from the rest of the paragraph by occurring at the foot of a page
3.  (tr) to deprive of one or both parents
[C15: from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos; compare Latin orbus bereaved]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, from L.L. orphanus "parentless child" (cf. O.Fr. orfeno, It. orfano), from Gk. orphanos "orphaned," lit. "deprived," from orphos "bereft," from PIE *orbho- "bereft of father," also "deprived of free status," from base *orbh- "to change allegiance, to pass from one status to another" (cf. Hittite
harb- "change allegiance," L. orbus "bereft," Skt. arbhah "weak, child," Arm. orb "orphan," O.Ir. orbe "heir," O.C.S. rabu "slave," rabota "servitude" (cf. robot), Goth. arbja, Ger. erbe, O.E. ierfa "heir," O.H.G. arabeit, Ger. Arbeit "work," O.Fris. arbed, O.E. earfoð "hardship, suffering, trouble"). The verb is attested from 1814. Orphanage "institute or home for orphans" is first attested 1865.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Bible Dictionary

Orphans definition

(Lam. 5:3), i.e., desolate and without protectors. The word occurs only here. In John 14:18 the word there rendered "comfortless" (R.V., "desolate;" marg., "orphans") properly means "orphans." The same Greek word is rendered "fatherless" in James 1:27.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Example sentences for orphans
There were one million war orphans and over half a million war disabled.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature