Waif (?), n. [OF. waif, gaif, as adj., lost, unclaimed, chose gaive a waif, LL. wayfium, res vaivae; of Scand. origin. See Waive.]
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.
Hence, anything found, or without an owner; that which comes along, as it were, by chance.
"Rolling in his mind old waifs
A wanderer; a castaway; a stray; a homeless child.
Desirous to return, and not received.
© Webster 1913.