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 orphan (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 orphan (audio) \ noun

Examples of orphan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Helen Woodward Animal Center is in need of foster volunteers to care for orphan pets who aren’t yet ready for adoption. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 July 2021 Beloved from the minute it was released, this is the story of a German Shepherd (voiced by Burt Reynolds), who leaves heaven to solve his murder but ends up befriending an adorable orphan. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 7 July 2021 In death, the sheikh had left him feeling as bereft as an orphan. BostonGlobe.com, 4 July 2021 Bowlsby knows all too well about being on the outside looking in, like some famished orphan in a Dickens novel watching a holiday feast through a frosty window. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, 18 June 2021 Another way the manufacturer could provide artesunate at a more reasonable cost would be for the FDA to award it a priority review voucher for orphan drugs. Aileen Ahiskali, STAT, 12 June 2021 Like Alexander Hamilton, Usnavi is an orphan and an immigrant. New York Times, 9 June 2021 Samantha, a well-to-do orphan, speaks out against child labor laws after her friend Nellie O’Malley is forced to take a brutal factory job. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 June 2021 The United States also leads the world in orphan drugs — developed to treat rare medical diseases that aren’t as profitable. David Harsanyi, National Review, 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that orphan and abandoned wells emit roughly 280,000 metric tons of methane each year, which is about as much pollution created by 2.1 million passenger vehicles annually. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 5 Apr. 2021 Aracely was convinced the virus would kill her and orphan her children. Evan Allen And Beth Teitell, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Mar. 2021 Parents of deer and rabbits typically interact with their young at dawn and dusk, which can leave the impression that the young are orphaned. cleveland, 3 June 2020 Galdikas continues to observe and care for the Borneo orangutans, many orphaned because of logging and poaching. Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2020 Set in the early 19th century, Michael Crummey’s fifth novel is a brilliant, harrowing, and supremely moving tale of Evered and Ada, orphaned at ages 11 and 9 on an isolated cove in Newfoundland. Katherine A. Powers, Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2020 Set in contemporary Germany and France, and recently translated into English, the story centers on three siblings — Jules, Martin and Liz Moreau — who are orphaned by the sudden death of their parents. BostonGlobe.com, 27 Sep. 2019 Instead of grizzled frontiersmen, the story turns on two siblings, Lucy and Sam, orphaned during the Gold Rush. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2020 With no formal crisis plan, Mayor Matthew Clarkson turned to volunteers collect clothing, food, and monetary donations; to pitch a makeshift hospital; and to build a home for 191 children temporarily or permanently orphaned by the epidemic. Katherine A. Foss, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for orphan

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for orphan

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Orphan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orphan. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on orphan

Nglish: Translation of orphan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of orphan for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about orphan

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