In Sindarin Orcrist is said to mean "Goblin Cleaver", (Goblin being a synonym for Orc used mainly in The Hobbit). Many of the famed weapons in Tolkien's stories had names, such as Glamdring, Narsil and Sting (see chart below). It was crafted by the Elves, who not only made it a valuable weapon, also a feared one, particularly among traditional enemies of the Elves: Orcs and other evil creatures of Middle-earth. Like Glamdring and Sting, the blade could detect the presence of Orcs and warn its bearer by glowing blue.
As the "mate" to King Turgon's sword Glamdring, Orcrist was likely borne by a high ranking lord in the King's entourage. Only four possibilities present themselves: Maeglin, Tuor, Ecthelion of the Fountain, and Glorfindel. Since Maeglin presumably still had his father's sword, Anguirel, it was not his. Tuor seems to have come to Gondolin after Glamdring had been forged (see Unfinished Tales), and if this was the mate it should have been forged before his arrival as well. In any case, Tuor bore an axe, not a sword. This leaves only Ecthelion and Glorfindel. Of the two, Glorfindel died outside of the city - only Ecthelion perished in Gondolin slaying Gothmog, lord of the Balrogs. Thus, the most probable assumption is that Orcrist belonged to Ecthelion, but this is never stated explicitly in any of Tolkien's writings.
In The Hobbit, Thorin is mortally wounded at the Battle of Five Armies. After his death Orcrist is placed upon Thorin's tomb and that it "gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached" (The Hobbit Chapter 18, "The Return Journey").