a. A child whose parents are dead.
b. A child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted.
2. A young animal that has been prematurely separated from its parents or its mother.
3. One that lacks support, supervision, or care: A lack of corporate interest has made the subsidiary an orphan.
4. A technology or product that has not been developed or marketed, especially on account of being commercially unprofitable.
5. Printing A very short line of type at the bottom of a paragraph, column, or page.
1. Deprived of parents.
2. Intended for orphans: an orphan home.
3. Lacking support, supervision, or care.
4. Being a technology or product that is an orphan.
tr.v. or·phaned, or·phan·ing, or·phans
To deprive (a child or young animal) of a parent or parents.
[Middle English, from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos, orphaned; see orbh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.