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Webster 1913 Edition


Waif

Waif

,
Noun.
[OF.
waif
,
gaif
, as adj., lost, unclaimed,
chose gaive
a waif, LL.
wayfium
,
res vaivae
; of Scand. origin. See
Waive
.]
1.
(Eng. Law.)
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.
Blackstone.
2.
Hence, anything found, or without an owner; that which comes along, as it were, by chance.
“Rolling in his mind old waifs of rhyme.”
Tennyson.
3.
A wanderer; a castaway; a stray; a homeless child.
A
waif

Desirous to return, and not received.
Cowper.

Webster 1828 Edition


Waif

WAIF

,
Noun.
Goods found, of which the owner is not known. These were originally such goods as a thief, when pursued, threw away to prevent being apprehended. They belong to the king, unless the owner makes fresh suit of the felon, takes him and brings him to justice.

Definition 2021


waif

waif

See also: WAIF

English

Noun

waif (plural waifs)

  1. 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!
  2. (botany, of a plant outside its native range) A plant that has been introduced but is not persistently naturalized.
  3. (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.
  4. (obsolete) Hence, anything found, or without an owner; that which comes along, as it were, by chance.

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