Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?
Makarenko started the first school for waifs and strays at the end of the Civil War.
waifs and strays = homeless children; people or animals who have no home and no one to care for them
Thank you for your efforts.
You are correct, though waif is rarely used in AmE these days. While stray (the noun) is commonly used, it generally refers to dogs and cats. As a verb, we do use it to refer to people in the sense that one has deviated from a specific group or purpose. "He has strayed from the values that his parents had taught him."