\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

Drew Angerer / Getty Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros in the wake of his attacks on tech companies. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg asked for George Soros research," 30 Nov. 2018 The New York Times and BuzzFeed News reported late Thursday that Sandberg asked Facebook staff in January to look into Soros’s financial interests. Emily Stewart, Vox, "There are many reasons to be mad at Sheryl Sandberg. Asking about Soros’s Facebook interests isn’t one of them.," 30 Nov. 2018 ArianeGroup will make the cuts by not replacing staff who leave or retire. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: SpaceX gets top clearance, Europe job cuts, Russian plans," 16 Nov. 2018 That’s because candidates usually need to pay to have a full-time campaign staff. Sarah Emily Baum, Teen Vogue, "Why Do Candidates Run for Office When There’s Little Chance They Can Win?," 7 Nov. 2018 Tchukki Andersen, a staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, suggests wrapping it in a plastic tarp to protect it for the journey home. Brian Clark Howard, Popular Mechanics, "How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh Longer," 22 Oct. 2018 As the father went ahead, the child reportedly evaded staff and climbed into the machine. Fox News, "Boy in China captured on X-ray riding conveyor belt through train station security," 20 Oct. 2018 After their breakup, Jessica's last remaining connection to the main hospital staff was through Dr. Glassman. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Good Doctor' Star Beau Garrett Will Not Be Returning for Season 2," 20 Sep. 2018 Gray opposes Alvarado’s views on school choice and arming school staff, and would be the second African American woman to be elected to the Kentucky Senate. Jessica Militare, Glamour, "What's Next For America's Teacher Walkout Movement?," 27 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well-being of transgender people and staffed by transgender people, for transgender people. Kimberly Shappley, Good Housekeeping, "The Story of My Transgender Daughter Went Viral. Here's How Life Has Been for Us Since.," 20 July 2018 The funding is being worked out; it will be staffed by Homeland Security officials and there will be no impact to training or military readiness, the officials said. Washington Post, "Officials: DHS requests 12,000 beds to detain families," 27 June 2018 The line, which can be reached at 866-359-7953, is staffed by people who have had personal experiences with mental health or addiction recovery, Larson said. Tessa Weinberg,, "Local mental health providers get more calls as rate of suicide rises in Illinois, nationally," 8 June 2018 Bell said his department is short-staffed and working through a backlog of inspections but is taking the incident seriously. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Did improper asphalt paving cause Detroit parking deck to collapse?," 5 May 2018 If the restaurant was short staffed, Antonopoulos said his cousins would help out after getting off of their other jobs. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bullwinkle’s in Brookfield provides homemade food for the sports fan, including a pound and a half twisted pretzel," 19 Apr. 2018 The center is staffed by a nurse practitioner, optometrist, and support staff, Jackson said. Sheila Vilvens,, "A model for improving community health care? West Clermont opens a school-based health center," 13 Feb. 2018 Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and Temple University Hospitals, which might have to contend with unruly fans whether the Eagles win or not, have measures in place to ensure they’re properly staffed, spokesmen for both hospitals said. Connor Smith,, "After the Super Bowl, Philly employers brace for Monday's hangover," 2 Feb. 2018 An embassy spokesperson Wednesday said the consular office was now almost fully staffed. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "U.S. Embassy in Venezuela to issue visas again | Miami Herald," 10 Jan. 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

7 Dec 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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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

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