Definition of waif noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//weɪf//
; NAmE NAmE//weɪf//
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a small thin person, usually a child, who looks as if they do not have enough to eat the waifs and strays of our society (= people with no home) Word Originlate Middle English: from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old Northern French gaif, probably of Scandinavian origin. Early use was often in waif and stray, as a legal term denoting a piece of property found and, if unclaimed, falling to the lord of the manor.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: waif

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