Waif definition

wāf
Frequency:
A person without home or friends; esp., a homeless child.
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A person, especially a young woman, who is thin or gaunt.
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The definition of a waif is a homeless, abandoned animal or person.

A homeless puppy wandering the streets alone is an example of a waif.

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Something found and unclaimed, as an object cast up by the sea.
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A homeless person, especially a forsaken or orphaned child.
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An abandoned young animal.
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Anything found by chance that is without an owner.
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A stray animal.
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A piece of property found but claimed by nobody.
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(obs.) Stolen goods discarded by a thief in flight.
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A wanderer; a castaway; a stray; a homeless child.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
waif
Plural:
waifs

Origin of waif

  • Middle English ownerless property, stray animal from Anglo-Norman probably of Scandinavian origin weip- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Anglo-Norman, possibly from Old French guaif (“stray beast"), probably from a North Germanic source such as Old Norse veif (“flag, waving thing"), from Proto-Germanic *waif, from Proto-Indo-European *weib-, *weip- (“to oscillate, swing").

    From Wiktionary