What is the difference between cascade and orphan removal from DB?

By | July 4, 2019


What’s the difference between

@OneToMany(cascade=REMOVE, mappedBy="customer")
public List<Order> getOrders() { ... }


@OneToMany(mappedBy="customer", orphanRemoval="true")
public List<Order> getOrders() { ... }

This example is from Java EE Tutorial, but I still don’t understand details.


From here:-

Cascading Remove

Marking a reference field with CascadeType.REMOVE (or CascadeType.ALL,
which includes REMOVE) indicates that remove operations should be
cascaded automatically to entity objects that are referenced by that
field (multiple entity objects can be referenced by a collection

class Employee {
    private Address address;

Orphan Removal

JPA 2 supports an additional and more aggressive remove cascading mode
which can be specified using the orphanRemoval element of the
@OneToOne and @OneToMany annotations:

class Employee {
    private Address address;


The difference between the two settings is in the response to
disconnecting a relationship. For example, such as when setting the
address field to null or to another Address object.

  • If orphanRemoval=true is specified the disconnected Address instance is automatically removed. This is useful for cleaning up
    dependent objects (e.g. Address) that should not exist without a
    reference from an owner object (e.g. Employee).
  • If only cascade=CascadeType.REMOVE is specified no automatic action is taken since disconnecting a relationship is not a remove

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