\ˈstaf \
plural staffs\ ˈstafs , ˈstavz \ or staves\ ˈstavz , 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

Synonyms for staff

Synonyms: Noun

bastinado (or bastinade), bat, baton, billy, billy club, bludgeon, cane, club, cudgel, nightstick, rod, rung [Scottish], sap, shillelagh (also shillalah), truncheon, waddy [Australian]

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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

Ultimately, the IronBirds didn’t need to tack on extra runs, as the collective efforts of the pitching staff held the Cyclones offense. Chris Jeter, The Aegis, "Back home, IronBirds snap losing skid with 6-1 win over Brooklyn," 12 July 2018 The Cards' former staff under Rick Pitino was also in pursuit. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "He has local ties, but U of L faces tough competition for Matthew Hurt," 14 July 2018 On Thursday, a call for questions was sent inside Uber to prepare for the company’s weekly staff meeting on Tuesday. Mike Isaac,, "At Uber, new questions arise about executive behavior," 14 July 2018 District-level staff pulled surveillance footage connected to the incident, as required by the use-of-force policy adopted two years ago, before identifying the incident for review by SIRT and eventually the state’s attorney. Talia Richman,, "'I only ever wanted justice,' says 18-year-old allegedly assaulted by Baltimore officer," 14 July 2018 The university also plans to hire additional staff to assist other Temple schools with data collection and oversight. Kelsey Gee, WSJ, "Temple University Fires a Dean Over Falsified M.B.A. Rankings Data," 13 July 2018 The Department of Correction would only confirm that security and medical staff responded to an incident involving Davis. Andrew Demillo, Fox News, "Police respond to attempted suicide by death row inmate," 13 July 2018 On Thursday, a call for questions was sent inside Uber to prepare for the company’s weekly staff meeting on Tuesday. New York Times, "At Uber, New Questions Arise About Executive Behavior," 13 July 2018 While sharing the link, Drew said Trump’s staff deserves the ridicule because of their political record. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Middletown Republicans Outraged After Drew Calls Chair Racist In Facebook Post," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When nursing homes are short-staffed, nurses and aides scramble to deliver meals, ferry bedbound residents to the bathroom and answer calls for pain medication. Jordan Rau, Washington Post, "‘Like A Ghost Town’: Erratic Nursing Home Staffing Revealed Through New Records," 13 July 2018 The prison, Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, has been short-staffed for years, with some workers spending as many as 16 hours at work in one day. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP leaders say wage increases not on table despite Wisconsin prison overtime costs, staffing shortage," 12 July 2018 The reload base became permanent this year after being staffed on a temporary basis for the last eight years, Bennett explained. Julia Sclafani And Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Seen those tankers above Sacramento? The low-down on Cal Fire's biggest base at McClellan," 3 July 2018 Library department heads, with the help of the library board and town manager’s office, will staff the library until Sadowski starts on July 16. Bill Leukhardt, Courant Community, "Southington Hires New Library Director From Coventry," 3 July 2018 Looking at roles other than the attending, orthopedic and neurosurgery teams typically had mostly men the OR, while gynecology departments staffed mostly women. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, "‘You, me, parking lot!’: Behind surgical curtain, researchers find hierarchies and gender dynamics driving conflict," 2 July 2018 His city will help staff a Chattahoochee Hills ambulance for transport as needed until September. Arielle Kass, ajc, "Grady says plan in place, will be ready to handle south Fulton service," 29 June 2018 In the spring, the students organized, promoted and staffed a Lip Sync Battle to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation. Tracy Trobridge, Howard County Times, "Leo clubs roar into service with Lions help [Glenwood/Glenelg/Dayton," 28 June 2018 The nonprofit has about 120 volunteers staffed on the hotline, which will be available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with an option to leave a voicemail after hours. Silvia Foster-frau, San Antonio Express-News, "RAICES hotline aims to help reunite immigrant families," 28 June 2018

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

9 Nov 2018

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

: 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 \
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 \

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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Comments on staff

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full of whispering sounds

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