An orphan is a child whose parents have died. The term is sometimes used to describe any person whose parents have died, though this is less common. A child who only has one living parent is also sometimes considered an orphan. For example, USCIS lists a child with one parent who cannot properly care for them as an orphan.
A child can also be considered a legal orphan. In this scenario, the child has living parents whose parental rights have been terminated. If the child were later adopted, they would no longer be considered a legal orphan.
Orphan can also be used in other contexts, such as:
Orphan diseases, which are diseases that either affect fewer than 200,000 or are common but ignored when developing medicine.
Orphan drugs, which are drugs developed to treat diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 individuals.
Orphan shares, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are shares that may be equitably attributed to parties that are insolvent or defunct.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]