\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In fact, the Bloomberg news service reported that, in an email from Dyson to his staff, the founder indicated that design changes are likely. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "Dyson's Long-Awaited Electric Vehicle Revealed in Design Patent Filing," 9 May 2019 For the second year, Bonnaroo will work with Calling All Crows in the days leading up to the festival to hold trainings for fans, staff, and volunteers. Greta Moran, Teen Vogue, "The Culture of Sexual Harassment at Music Festivals Like Coachella Could Be Changing," 3 May 2019 Though Dwell with Dignity's prolific on-staff designer, Terica Cunningham, oversees most of the projects, other Dallas designers supportive of the organization's cause have stepped in to work on some of its homes. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Nonprofit Helps Designers Change People's Lives," 3 Apr. 2019 The clever piece of body art shows the notes G A G A on a musical staff on the singer's forearm. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga Just Got a New Tattoo Inspired by A Star Is Born," 14 Feb. 2019 After all, Waymo already has them on staff, so there's little downside to using them at launch time. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Waymo One, the groundbreaking self-driving taxi service, explained," 5 Dec. 2018 Some departments have ordered staff members to engage in self-criticism sessions to assess their and others’ performance, employees said, and departures... Shan Li, WSJ, "A Once Fast-Growing Chinese Tech Giant Cuts Back," 12 Apr. 2019 The attorney’s office said in a statement that prosecutors faced a heavy burden in proving that staff members willfully used more force than necessary. Todd Richmond, The Seattle Times, "Wisconsin youth prison probe closes without charges," 12 Apr. 2019 Each staff member seems genuinely delighted to be there, and even more delighted to proactively anticipate your needs. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "Take a peek inside the art deco resort in Miami Beach that hosted old Hollywood's finest.," 12 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The service sector makes its money off the warmth and charisma of the people who staff it, which can be gross and exploitative, but is also what can make being one of those people bearable. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "5 Black Fridays at the mall food court," 21 Nov. 2018 Apple established an office in Culver City, California—a major hub in Los Angeles for TV, film, and new media production—and staffed it with executives from Sony's entertainment division and beyond. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple’s September 12, 2018 event: What we expect to be “gathering round” for," 9 Sep. 2018 This company is staffed with 22 music lovers and people who are extremely knowledgeable about music and everybody has their own taste. Nicole Pajer, Billboard, "Hey Babies! Beastie Boys Lullaby Renditions Are Coming: Q&A With Rockabye Baby! Founder Lisa Roth," 13 Apr. 2018 To Clemens’s surprise, his father-in-law provided lavishly for the newlyweds, purchasing for them a beautiful home in Buffalo, New York, staffed with servants. Richard Gunderman, Smithsonian, "For Mark Twain, It Was Love At First Sight," 13 Feb. 2018 While not everyone will stay to oversee GroundSea day-to-day, the inaugural team did lay out a solid foundation, and the retreat is staffed with toptier local guides, fitness coaches, and massage therapists. Alex Kuczynski, Town & Country, "How GroundSea Fitness Is Bringing West-Coast Wellness Trends Back to the Berkshires," 17 Oct. 2016 Some houses were so well staffed that a dinner for 100 could be given without outside help. Anne De Courcy, WSJ, "Five Best: Anne de Courcy on Books About Society in the Gilded Age," 5 Oct. 2018 The university is so short-staffed that three departments - languages, philosophy and electronic engineering - are about to close. Anthony Faiola And Rachelle Krygier,, "A historic exodus is leaving Venezuela without teachers, doctors and electricians," 4 June 2018 The office was well-staffed for crowds, preventing lines, said county Registrar of Voters Michael Vu. Lori Weisberg,, "Final campaign push in San Diego: walking and phoning," 2 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about staff

Statistics for staff

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for staff

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!