Definition of orphan in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈôrfən/


1A child whose parents are dead.
Example sentences
  • She grew up an orphan, her parents having been killed in a battle which overtook their hometown.
  • The Earl had suggested that David pretend to be an orphan whose parents had been American gentility.
  • This three-month old baby escaped with a fractured wrist, but is now an orphan as both parents were killed.
2 Printing The first line of a paragraph set as the last line of a page or column, considered undesirable.


[with object]
Make (a person or animal) an orphan: John was orphaned at 12
More example sentences
  • By the time he was a young teenager, he and his brother were orphaned, alone and destitute.
  • The boy who is an orphan was orphaned when his parents died in short succession in 1992.
  • He was orphaned at the age of nine, and got a job as a cabin boy, and through sheer hard graft, worked his way up the ranks.



Pronunciation: /ˈôrf(ə)nˌho͝od/
Example sentences
  • Ill health can also be an important cause of poverty through loss of income, catastrophic health expenses, and orphanhood.
  • From boyhood, he learned to keep his feelings to himself, repressing memories of his father and of the emotional impact of early orphanhood.
  • During the Long First Half of the Twentieth Century, one of the most important factors in the rising age of home-leaving was declining adult mortality, which led to declining rates of orphanhood.


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek orphanos 'bereaved'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: or·phan

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