• A person, especially a minor, both or (rarely) one of whose parents have died.
  • A person, especially a minor, whose parents have permanently abandoned them.
  • A young animal with no mother.
  • Anything that is unsupported, as by its source, provider or caretaker, by reason of the supporter's demise or decision to abandon.
  • A single line of type, beginning a paragraph, at the bottom of a column or page.
  • Any unreferenced object.




  • Late Middle English, from Late Latin orphanus, from Ancient Greek ὀρφανός ("without parents, fatherless"), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃órbʰos.
  • Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ, Latin orbus ("orphaned"), Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe ("heir")), Old English ierfa ("heir"). More at erf.

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