Last modified on 25 May 2014, at 21:41

EnglishEdit

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

EtymologyEdit

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).

PronunciationEdit

NounEdit

waif (plural waifs)

  1. (obsolete) Goods found of which the owner is not known; originally, such goods as a pursued thief threw away to prevent being apprehended, which belonged to the king unless the owner made pursuit of the felon, took him, and brought him to justice.
  2. (obsolete) Hence, anything found, or without an owner; that which comes along, as it were, by chance.
  3. A wanderer; a castaway; a stray; a homeless child.
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 5
      Tenderly Kala nursed her little waif, wondering silently why it did not gain strength and agility as did the little apes of other mothers. It was nearly a year from the time the little fellow came into her possession before he would walk alone, and as for climbing--my, but how stupid he was!

Related termsEdit

See alsoEdit

TranslationsEdit