1

waif

play
noun \ ˈwāf \

Definition of waif

1 a :a piece of property (such as property washed up by the sea) found but unclaimed
b waifs plural :stolen goods thrown away by a thief in flight
2 a :something found without an owner and especially by chance
b :a stray person or animal; especially :a homeless child
3 :an extremely thin and usually young woman

waifish

play \ˈwā-fish\ adjective

waiflike

play \ˈwāf-ˌlīk\ adjective

waif was our Word of the Day on 08/18/2017. Hear the podcast!

Origin and Etymology of waif

Middle English weif, waif, from Anglo-French, from waif, adjective, stray, unclaimed, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse veif something flapping, veifa to be in movement — more at wipe


2

waif

noun

Definition of waif

:waft 4

Origin and Etymology of waif

perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse veif something flapping



WAIF Defined for Kids

waif

play
noun \ ˈwāf \

Definition of waif for Students

:a homeless child


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up waif? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

agreeable, attractive, or delicious

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!