\ ˈstaf How to pronounce staff (audio) \
plural staffs\ ˈstafs How to pronounce staffs (audio) , ˈstavz \ or staves\ ˈstavz How to pronounce staves (audio) , ˈstāvz \

Definition of staff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a long stick carried in the hand for support in walking
b : a supporting rod: such as
(1) archaic : shaft sense 1a(1)
(2) : a crosspiece in a ladder or chair : rung
(3) : flagstaff
(4) : a pivoted arbor
c : club, cudgel
2a : crosier
b : a rod carried as a symbol of office or authority
3 : the horizontal lines with their spaces on which music is written

called also stave

4 : any of various graduated sticks or rules used for measuring : rod

5 plural staffs

a : the officers chiefly responsible for the internal operations of an institution or business
b : a group of officers appointed to assist a civil executive or commanding officer
c : military or naval officers not eligible for operational command
d : the personnel who assist a director in carrying out an assigned task
e plural staff : a member of a staff employs three full-time staff


staffed; staffing; staffs

Definition of staff (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to supply with a staff or with workers
2 : to serve as a staff member of an organization staffed by volunteers

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Other Words from staff


staff adjective

Examples of staff in a Sentence


The entire staff has done a great job this year. The staff is at a meeting. She's a new member of the staff. The general's staff is planning the army's next move.


We'll need 300 workers to properly staff the hotel. the 300 workers who staff the hotel
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

It is assumed that phones are mostly smuggled into prisons by visitors and staff, and who can collect fees upwards of $1,000 per phone. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "California gang leaders’ prison cell phones reveal secrets that stayed in the dark for years," 3 July 2019 Under past contracts, school administrators were required to contribute toward premiums at the same level as other licensed professional staff, which includes teachers and others covered by the education association’s contract. Karen Berkowitz,, "Township High School District 113 to provide top administrators with added health insurance benefit," 3 July 2019 For weeks, the Red Sox pitching staff — both in the rotation and bullpen — has been springing leaks. Alex Speier,, "Nate Eovaldi may be best bet for desperate Red Sox bullpen," 3 July 2019 Both of those museums dwarf the Freer in terms of staff, collection size and annual visitors. Washington Post, "Women are increasingly getting the top museum jobs. Will more of them finally get equal pay?," 2 July 2019 The furlough impacts full-time and part-time staff, said Monique Musick, UA communications and marketing manager who is also impacted by the furlough. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "Furlough notices go out to University of Alaska employees in the wake of governor’s veto," 2 July 2019 Eighty-eight adult males held in a cell with maximum capacity of 41, some signaling prolonged detention to Office of Inspector General (OIG) staff, observed by OIG on June 12, 2019, at Border Patrol's Fort Brown Station. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "'Ticking Time Bomb': New Government Report Details Overcrowding, Prolonged Detention and Security Risks at Border Patrol Facilities," 2 July 2019 The shrunken budget hobbled staff, slashed Visitor Center hours, and left buildings in disrepair at a place often referred to as the crown jewel of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System. USA TODAY, "Women in baseball, Lynyrd Skynyrd, circus fire: News from around our 50 states," 1 July 2019 This has seen staff, members of the Royal Family, and over 3,000 works of art move out of the Palace's East Wing, in order to create a vacant space for the renovation work. Phil Boucher, Fortune, "The British Royal Family’s Costs Are Skyrocketing. Here’s Why," 29 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to Pekoske, the TSA conducts a thorough examination of each employee's home airport to make sure it's adequately staffed before sending the worker to the border. Bryce Klehm, CBS News, "TSA chief says hundreds of workers have been deployed to border," 25 June 2019 The land sat largely dormant for the last 20 years, however, because the open space district did not have the money to renovate and staff it. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, "New redwood park opening 15 miles from downtown San Jose," 7 June 2019 Traveling doctors The partnership between USA Health and Orange Beach was made possible due to an approximately $1.3 million expenditure the city made to purchase two ambulances and staff them by adding nine full-time city paramedics., "Orange Beach-USA partner to put doctors on new city ambulances," 5 June 2019 Right now, Japanese automakers staff their plants with about 20% temporary workers. David Welch,, "GM plots temp-worker push as union seethes over closed factories," 19 June 2019 Or staff the front desk when people come for showers. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "A man who can build a car by hand leads Ford into future; 'He’s just never afraid'," 19 June 2019 But the 8-year-old Extreme Ultra race was disorganized, poorly staffed, under-supplied and, at times, dangerous. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Local ultra-runner is first American woman to complete Mount Everest extreme race," 19 June 2019 At the raucous Coachella music festival in California in April, the company staffed afterparties with young women in leotards, stockings and tight white T-shirts emblazoned with the Select logo. Mike Rogoway,, "Behind Portland’s blockbuster marijuana deal: a Russian billionaire, cannabis consolidation," 9 June 2019 More than 250 employees staffed a care package assembly line throughout the day to help prepare about 3,500 packages. Mikala Kane,, "This week’s good news: Employment soars at the state’s craft breweries and Pratt & Whitney workers make care packages for troops," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'staff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of staff


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for staff


Middle English staf, from Old English stæf; akin to Old High German stab staff, Sanskrit stabhnāti he supports

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Statistics for staff

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for staff

The first known use of staff was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for staff



English Language Learners Definition of staff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a group of people who work for an organization or business
: a group of military officers who help a commanding officer but who do not take part in active fighting
old-fashioned : a long stick that you carry in your hand for support while walking



English Language Learners Definition of staff (Entry 2 of 2)

: to supply (an organization or business) with workers
: to work for (an organization or business) as a member of a staff


\ ˈstaf How to pronounce staff (audio) \
plural staffs or staves\ ˈstavz \

Kids Definition of staff

1 : a pole, stick, rod, or bar used as a support or as a sign of authority the staff of a flag a bishop's staff
2 pl staffs  : a group of persons serving as assistants to or employees under a chief a hospital staff the administrative staff
3 : the five parallel lines with their four spaces on which music is written
4 : something that is a source of strength Bread is the staff of life.
5 pl staffs  : a group of military officers who plan and manage for a commanding officer


\ ˈstaf How to pronounce staff (audio) \

Medical Definition of staff

: the doctors and surgeons regularly attached to a hospital and helping to determine its policies and guide its activities

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More from Merriam-Webster on staff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with staff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for staff

Spanish Central: Translation of staff

Nglish: Translation of staff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of staff for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about staff

Comments on staff

What made you want to look up staff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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