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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Waif \Waif\, n. [OF. waif, gaif, as adj., lost, unclaimed, chose gaive a waif, LL. wayfium, res vaivae; of Scand. origin. See Waive.] [1913 Webster] 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. [1913 Webster] 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. [1913 Webster] 3. A wanderer; a castaway; a stray; a homeless child. [1913 Webster] A waif Desirous to return, and not received. --Cowper. [1913 Webster]