Waifu is a term referring to a fictional character, usually in animes or mangas, that someone is attracted to or has great, romantic affection for.
The literal meaning of the word comes from the katakana (Japanese syllabary, used to spell out English words) word for “wife”.
The term is popular amongst manga/anime and video-game fandoms.
Origin of the term
As it has been already mentioned, the word originates as a Japanese borrowing and rendering of the English word “wife”.
The term in Japanese dates back to at least the 1980s, when probably some younger Japanese people may have adopted the English word, because of the gender limited word in Japanese, where “kanai” literally means “inside the house”.
In the early 2000s, “waifu” developed a more specialized meaning in anime and in other related media in English-speaking countries.
Spread of the term
Anime fans began using the term “waifu” as a slang to refer to a character they really liked, one they were particularly fond of.
The earliest known entry for this use of the term on Urban Dictionary was written in 2007, and there is even evidence that the term dates back in its anime sense to 2006.
The expression also spread outside of anime fandoms, therefore in video games, movies and even in live-action television shows characters could be called “waifu”.