Dictionary.com

waif

[ weyf ]
/ weɪf /
Save This Word!

noun
a person, especially a child, who has no home or friends.
something found, especially a stray animal, whose owner is not known.
a very thin, often small person, usually a young woman.
a stray item or article: to gather waifs of gossip.
Nautical. waft (def. 8).
QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of waif

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Anglo-French, originally “lost, stray (animal), unclaimed (property)” (compare Old French guaif “stray beast”), from Scandinavian; compare Old Norse veif “movement to and fro, something waving, flag”; see waive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use waif in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for waif

waif
/ (weɪf) /

noun
a person, esp a child, who is homeless, friendless, or neglected
anything found and not claimed, the owner being unknown
nautical another name for waft (def. 5)
law obsolete a stolen article thrown away by a thief in his flight and forfeited to the Crown or to the lord of the manor

Derived forms of waif

waiflike, adjective

Word Origin for waif

C14: from Anglo-Norman, variant of Old Northern French gaif, of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse veif a flapping thing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
FEEDBACK