\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

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

When nursing homes are short of staff, nurses and aides scramble to deliver meals, ferry bedbound residents to the bathroom and answer calls for pain medication. Jordan Rau,, "‘It’s almost like a ghost town.’ Most nursing homes overstated staffing for years," 11 July 2018 But as time went on, Franklin staff (and the publishers and scholars who served as directors on its board) chafed at the control the U.S. government placed on them. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018 Healthy Harrison includes a workplace wellness program, an in-school walking program for both children and staff, and an opioid addiction program developed in partnership with local health care providers. Clay Marsh, STAT, "Facing deaths of despair from the depths of despair in West Virginia," 12 July 2018 Projects are identified by GDOT staff and managed through the Office of Local Grants. David Ibata, ajc, "GDOT spending $133K to extend Woodstock turn lane," 12 July 2018 The arrival of new players, coaches and backroom staff, and kits this summer had already got fans excited, but this could be the icing on the cake for the Newcastle faithful., "Newcastle United Fans Are Sent Into Frenzy as Unknown Player Is Pictured in Kit," 11 July 2018 Buy Photo Philadelphia’s controller will audit the way the Parking Authority staffs and spends money on salaries for on-street parking enforcement. Jason Laughlin,, "Philly's controller to audit PPA's parking enforcement," 11 July 2018 Qatari organizers have had 180 staff in Russia observing how to run a World Cup, and could keep one new feature in four years. Graham Dunbar, The Seattle Times, "Crowds in Moscow make Qatar rethink 2022 World Cup plans," 9 July 2018 Behind the scenes of the fair’s visual art exhibit, the hardworking staff and volunteers hang work, answer questions and become a kind of summertime community. Richard Chang,, "Art offers a feast of a different kind for OC Fair visitors," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

It was staffed by two attendants and had three stalls, plus a trash receptacle. Cynthia Hubert, sacbee, "Homeless people lack bathrooms in Sacramento. Here's where they may get new facilities," 3 July 2018 Though the Amazon Go store has no cashiers, it is extensively staffed, particularly at the entrance and with shelf stockers constantly replenishing inventory. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Amazon Will Supersize Its Second Grab-and-Go Grocery in Seattle," 3 July 2018 It will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central, but callers will be able to leave voice mails at any time. Emma Brown, Washington Post, "Nonprofit group sets up a hotline to help reunite immigrant families," 28 June 2018 During the weekends, the phones in the traffic unit are not staffed, said Sgt. Glenn E. Rice, kansascity, "Police could not ID crash victim. Family asks: Why didn't they ask public for help?," 7 June 2018 The West Allis high schools and intermediate schools are staffed with police officers, Botsch said. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "West Allis and Greenfield school officers are armed and ready for danger," 28 Mar. 2018 No agency can usurp a President’s authority to staff the executive branch with the people of his choice. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Leandra English Clocks Out," 8 July 2018 While 160 Bahamians will be hired to staff the island, integrating Bahamian traditions and meaningful interactions with locals simply aren’t part of the equation. Fortune, "Royal Caribbean Is Designing a $200 Million Island," 21 Mar. 2018 The restaurant, staffed by unpaid cooks and servers from the rehab program, is a current headliner in the small town of Erwin’s restaurant week. Amy Julia Harris And Shoshana Walter, charlotteobserver, "North Carolina rehab under investigation for food stamp fraud," 13 July 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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Learn More about staff

Phrases Related to staff

ground staff

on (the) staff

staff nurse

stave in

Statistics for staff

Last Updated

12 Oct 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

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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