The first lawyer, you know, was a waif that was adopted by a tortoise and a fox.
One employed on the sea-coast to look to the rights of salvage, wreck, or waif.
I am a stranger, a waif, a man with neither name nor fortune!
“On board the ship,” replied the waif, in tones not at all sepulchral.
I am cast on the globe like a waif, like a grain of dust tossed by the winds, and nobody knows where I came from.
“I will wash all the time if they will only let me stay in the ship,” pleaded the waif.
I am such a waif and stray everywhere, that I am liable to be drifted where any current may set.'
The cashier led the way, and the waif reluctantly followed him.
Fusie, the little, harum-scarum French waif was ready for anything in the way of adventure.
Sanford had made peace with the waif, who was now as popular as ever with all the party.
late 14c., "unclaimed property, flotsam, stray animal," from Anglo-Norm. waif, gwaif (early 13c.) "ownerless property," probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse veif "waving thing, flag," from Proto-Germanic *waif-, from PIE *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically" (see vibrate). Cf. Medieval Latin waivium "thing thrown away by a thief in flight." A Scottish/northern English parallel form was wavenger (late 15c.).
Meaning "person (especially a child) without home or friends" first attested 1784, from legal phrase waif and stray (1620s). Neglected children being uncommonly thin, the word tended toward this sense. Connotations of "fashionable, small, slender woman" began 1991 with application to childishly slim supermodels, e.g. Kate Moss.