Definition of waif in English:

waif

Line breaks: waif
Pronunciation: /weɪf
 
/

noun

  • 1A homeless, neglected, or abandoned person, especially a child: she is foster-mother to various waifs and strays
    More example sentences
    • I used to pick up all sorts of collarless waifs and strays from our housing estate in Ireland.
    • Winter for Kiev's waifs and strays is a cold, bleak daily battle for survival.
    • Mrs Tarpen had no problem with that idea, and she rather liked the idea of helping a homeless waif off the streets.
    Synonyms
    ragamuffin, street urchin, guttersnipe; abandoned infant, foundling, orphan, stray, outcast
    archaic gamin, mudlark
  • 1.1A person who appears thin or poorly nourished: skimpily clad waifs pranced down the catwalk
    More example sentences
    • It's what the cool waif girls would throw on effortlessly but still look amazing.
    • Those movies wanted us to see her as a Pre-Raphaelite figure but she verged on a Walter Keane waif.
    • There were more of those girls than there were little waif heroin-looking chicks.
  • 1.2An abandoned pet animal.
    More example sentences
    • A lost waif and stray of extraordinary beauty turned up in Aberdeen and made the front page of two national newspapers: a bluethroat looking enchantingly like a robin that had been coloured in wrong.
    • Lorraine Spencer, the founder of cat refuge Devizes Kats and Kits in Care, says she will not be taking in any more waifs and strays.
    • For the last thirty years she has been taking in waifs and strays who would otherwise have been left in kennels, or possibly even destroyed.

Derivatives

waifish

adjective
More example sentences
  • Curvaceous, decidedly feminine and womanly I would say, rather than waifish and childlike.
  • Ben Drawing shows a waifish, pale boy with scruffy black hair and tattoos lounging in black bathing briefs on a brightly colored beach towel.
  • Audrey Hepburn may look very good in those stylish designer clothes, if you're into her starving waifish look, but she isn't a very good actress.

waiflike

adjective
More example sentences
  • What he has tried to sell the public is the waiflike innocence of his Peter Pan persona.
  • I did not see these super-thin, waiflike girls that I see today.
  • It may have been her waiflike quality that made one want to serve her, but there was also something imperious in her personality that blurred the line between wishes and commands.

Origin

late 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.

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