orphan

noun
or·​phan | \ ˈȯr-fən How to pronounce orphan (audio) \

Definition of orphan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents He became an orphan when his parents died in a car accident.
2 : a young animal that has lost its mother feeding calves that are orphans
3 : one deprived of some protection or advantage orphans of the storm refugee orphans of the war
4 : a first line (as of a paragraph) separated from its related text and appearing at the bottom of a printed page or column

orphan

verb
orphaned; orphaning\ ˈȯr-​fə-​niŋ How to pronounce orphaning (audio) , ˈȯrf-​niŋ \

Definition of orphan (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause to become an orphan

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Other Words from orphan

Noun

orphan adjective
orphanhood \ ˈȯr-​fən-​ˌhu̇d How to pronounce orphanhood (audio) \ noun

Examples of orphan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The ruling from Fletman on Friday means the case now moves to Orphans Court, which in addition to being the venue for cases involving orphans, handles cases for individuals who are unable to manage their own affairs. Tom Avril, Philly.com, "CHOP must keep 'brain-dead' N.J. boy on life support, judge rules," 27 Apr. 2018 But in part due to groups like GiveDirectly, and in even larger part due to the success of government programs like Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Kenya’s cash program for orphans and vulnerable children, that stigma has dissipated. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Giving out cash is a great way to fight poverty. This approach might be even better.," 15 Oct. 2018 Each morning, Erol Baytas checks for further damage on the imposing but derelict timber building on an island off Istanbul that for decades housed orphans from the minority Greek community. Lefteris Pitarakis, Fox News, "AP PHOTOS: Istanbul's historic orphanage awaits salvation," 9 Sep. 2018 Madonna is celebrating her upcoming 60th birthday with a fundraiser for orphans and children in Malawi. Mesfin Fekadu, The Seattle Times, "Madonna to celebrate 60th birthday with Malawi fundraiser," 30 July 2018 For Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti, conjoined twins and orphans from Tanzania, this was certainly the case. Rory Smith, Cnn Anna Cardovillis, CNN, "Tanzanian conjoined twins die at age 21," 4 June 2018 An orphan who studied history at Dartmouth and then came back to Monmouth to waste his nights bartending, Link is torn between two responses to racial oppression. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Black and White, in Wind and Fog," 22 Feb. 2019 Olivia Cooke stars in the miniseries, which tells the story of Becky Sharp, an orphan determined to improve her station in life—by any means necessary. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "A New Adaptation of Vanity Fair Premieres Later This Month," 14 Dec. 2018 The Manzanar Children’s Village was populated by orphans of Japanese ancestry who’d been living in foster care or institutions on the West Coast. Rick Hampson, USA TODAY, "Celebrating Independence Day in America's detention camps – during World War II and now," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Little Willa, who was orphaned as a newborn, first crossed paths with her now-mother in April 2016. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Everything to Know About Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' Adorable Kids," 7 Apr. 2019 An estimated 900,000 children have been orphaned or separated from their families, made homeless or otherwise affected by Cyclone Idai, half of the 1.8 million people impacted overall, according to Mozambican government figures. Cara Anna, The Seattle Times, "‘It will get worse’: Perilous times for kids hit by cyclone," 26 Mar. 2019 Meanwhile, Brianna, essentially orphaned in the 1970s, discovers a clue in historical documents that points to Jamie and Claire’s deaths, and decides to makes the dangerous journey through the stones to warn them. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Caitriona Balfe Is Evolving with Outlander," 31 Dec. 2018 The character was that of an emotionally fragile girl orphaned by the Nazis. Nancy Bilyeau, Town & Country, "What Really Happened to Natalie Wood?," 29 Nov. 2018 Nearly 50 children orphaned by the Syrian war escaped the hell that was their hometown of Aleppo as government forces moved in under a hail of fire. Washington Post, "Syrian orphans who fled Aleppo find new home," 11 June 2018 In the grimmest cases, kids whose parents are arrested or deported are orphaned. Time, "'No One Is Safe.' How Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Splitting Families Apart," 8 Mar. 2018 Children are at risk of being orphaned if their parent is deported. Dianna M. Náñez, azcentral, "Is one lawsuit a path to justice and reunification for separated migrant families?," 23 June 2018 Beyond the core interest in protecting American citizens from murder, the United States has a fairly strong interest in protecting American citizens from being orphaned. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "There’s nothing “America First” about Trump’s Saudi policy," 21 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'orphan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of orphan

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for orphan

Noun

Middle English orphan, orphen, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French orphayn, borrowed from Late Latin orphanus, borrowed from Greek orphanós "left without parents, child without parents," derivative (with -anos, noun and adjective suffix) of *orphos "orphan," going back to Indo-European *h3órbhos "person or property turned over (as after a death)," whence also Armenian orb "orphan," Latin orbus "deprived by death of a relative, bereaved, orphan," Old Church Slavic rabŭ "slave," also (from post-Indo-European *orbhós "one having the inheritance, heir," whence *orbhii̯o- "of the heir") Old Irish orpe, orbae "patrimony, heritage," Old English ierfe "inheritance," Old Saxon erƀi, Old High German erbi, Gothic arbi, and (from Germanic *arbijōn- "heir") Old English ierfa "heir," Old High German erbo, Gothic arbja, runic Norse arbija; Indo-European *h3órbhos perhaps derivative of a verbal base *h3erbh- "turn, be turned over, undergo transfer" — more at orb entry 1

Verb

derivative of orphan entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near orphan

oro y plata

Orozco

orp

orphan

orphan's court

orphanage

orphancy

Statistics for orphan

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for orphan

The first known use of orphan was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for orphan

orphan

noun

English Language Learners Definition of orphan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a child whose parents are dead

orphan

verb

English Language Learners Definition of orphan (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (a child) to become an orphan

orphan

noun
or·​phan | \ ˈȯr-fən How to pronounce orphan (audio) \

Kids Definition of orphan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a child whose parents are dead

orphan

verb
orphaned; orphaning

Kids Definition of orphan (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause to have no parents : cause to become an orphan She was orphaned as a baby.

orphan

noun
or·​phan

Legal Definition of orphan

: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents broadly : a child without a parent or guardian

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More from Merriam-Webster on orphan

Spanish Central: Translation of orphan

Nglish: Translation of orphan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of orphan for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about orphan

Comments on orphan

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