1610 (implied in oafish
), also auf
(1621), "a changeling; a foolish child left by the fairies" [Johnson], from a Scand. source, cf. Norw. alfr
"silly person," in O.N., "elf" (see elf
). Hence, "a misbegotten, deformed idiot." Until recently, some dictionaries still gave the plural as oaves.