From Late Latin orphanus, from Ancient Greek ὀρφανός (orphanós, “without parents, fatherless”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃órbʰos. Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ (árbha), Latin orbus (“orphaned”), Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe (“heir”)), Old English ierfa (“heir”). More at erf.
orphan (plural orphans)
- A person, especially a minor, both or (rarely) one of whose parents have died.
- A young animal with no mother.
- (figuratively) Anything that is unsupported, as by its source, provider or caretaker, by reason of the supporter's demise or decision to abandon.
- (typography) A single line of type, beginning a paragraph, at the bottom of a column or page.
- (computing) Any unreferenced object.
orphan (not comparable)
- Deprived of parents (also orphaned).
- She is an orphan child.
- (by extension, figuratively) Remaining after the removal of some form of support.
- With its government funding curtailed, the gun registry became an orphan program.
- (transitive) To deprive of parents (used almost exclusively in the passive)
- What do you do when you come across two orphaned polar bear cubs?
- (transitive, computing) To make unavailable, as by removing the last remaining pointer or reference to.
- When you removed that image tag, you orphaned the resized icon.
- Removing categories orphans pages from the main category tree.
- "orphan" at OneLook Dictionary Search.