Origin of waif
Examples from the Web for waif
The waif's recklessness and audacity were to him only evidences of so much brains and energy.Tom Grogan|F. Hopkinson Smith
Thus it came to pass that in the pursuit of game, our little savage became a “waif and stray.”Personal Reminiscences in Book Making|R.M. Ballantyne
It is but a waif on the ocean of commerce—the jetsam and flotsam, of which the law must direct the disposal.The Arena|Various
And then Alan Hawke spoke truly to the waif of Destiny, whom chance had thrown in his way.A Fascinating Traitor|Richard Henry Savage
Indeed, his mind dwelt more upon the defeated and desperate man beside him than upon the waif he was searching for.Aunt Jane's Nieces in Society|Edith Van Dyne
Word Origin for waif
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.