[awr-fuh n]



verb (used with object)

to deprive of parents or a parent through death: He was orphaned at the age of four.
Informal. to deprive of commercial sponsorship, an employer, etc.: The recession has orphaned many experienced workers.

Origin of orphan

1425–75; late Middle English (noun) < Late Latin orphanus destitute, without parents < Greek orphanós bereaved; akin to Latin orbus bereaved
Related formsor·phan·hood, nounhalf-or·phan, nounun·or·phaned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for orphaned

Contemporary Examples of orphaned

Historical Examples of orphaned

  • He had been orphaned so young that he could remember no other woman whom he called mother.

  • That brought to mind that, a week to-night, she would be orphaned of him.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • For here was his last friend gone, here was he orphaned for ever.

  • And she caught the orphaned George Washington to her and hugged him.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • She saw not the dances of the heedless, but the tears of the motherless and the orphaned.

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Elizabeth Robins Pennell

British Dictionary definitions for orphaned



  1. a child, one or (more commonly) both of whose parents are dead
  2. (as modifier)an orphan child
printing the first line of a paragraph separated from the rest of the paragraph by occurring at the foot of a page


(tr) to deprive of one or both parents

Word Origin for orphan

C15: from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos; compare Latin orbus bereaved
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for orphaned



1814, from orphan (n.). Related: Orphaned; orphaning.



c.1300, from Late Latin orphanus "parentless child" (source of Old French orfeno, Italian orfano), from Greek orphanos "orphaned, without parents, fatherless," literally "deprived," from orphos "bereft," from PIE *orbho- "bereft of father," also "deprived of free status," from root *orbh- "to change allegiance, to pass from one status to another" (cf. Hittite harb- "change allegiance," Latin orbus "bereft," Sanskrit arbhah "weak, child," Armenian orb "orphan," Old Irish orbe "heir," Old Church Slavonic rabu "slave," rabota "servitude" (cf. robot), Gothic arbja, German erbe, Old English ierfa "heir," Old High German arabeit, German Arbeit "work," Old Frisian arbed, Old English earfoð "hardship, suffering, trouble"). As an adjective from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper