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

Noun 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. Verb 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 Arizona hospital officials are most worried about finding enough staff — not PPE or beds — to treat a surge of new COVID-19 patients, as hospitals compete for contract labor in the midst of a pandemic that is gripping the entire country. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona hit record highs as state reports over 5,100 new cases," 5 Jan. 2021 Levine said in Pennsylvania, the category of health care workers in the first group getting vaccinated is broad and includes janitorial staff, those working to distribute meals to patients and employees in outpatient settings. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Equitable access to coronavirus vaccine emerges as next challenge amid slow rollout," 5 Jan. 2021 Since then, the store has permanently relocated a short drive away, and is still filled with a great selection, the same helpful staff, and pointed book recommendations. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "Weekend Finds: The Indie Bookstores, Snowshoeing Spots, and Yurt Dining We Loved," 4 Jan. 2021 Northam ordered the flag over the state capitol be flown at half-staff to honor the late representative. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "GOP Virginia state senator dies with COVID-19," 2 Jan. 2021 Dizzy’s staff now, people who have been part of the restaurant for many years. Ian Mcnulty | Staff Writer,, "Next generation to reopen Li'l Dizzy's, reviving New Orleans restaurant legacy on the brink," 2 Jan. 2021 The new staff at USC, like so many others, believed that Westphal would end up at UCLA and be the latest star to play for John Wooden. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Paul Westphal, Basketball Hall of Famer from L.A., dies at 70," 2 Jan. 2021 With a makeshift coaching staff, Texas upsets Utah 38-10 in the Alamo Bowl to finish a disappointing season on a high moment. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "The highs and lows of Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas: From a rough debut vs. Maryland to stunning Georgia in the Sugar Bowl," 2 Jan. 2021 Thousands of Chinese citizens—including front-line health care staff, teachers, and public transport workers—already have received a Sinopharm vaccine under an emergency use authorization. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "‘It’s crazy.’ Upbeat COVID-19 vaccine news from China and U.K. leave scientists wanting more details," 30 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Maximum flex bed capacity -- the number of hospital beds regardless of ability to staff them -- dropped by 56 beds to 11,428. Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Online, "Virus cases rise by 3,184; prisons go on 'lockdown'," 31 Dec. 2020 No place has been hit harder by the pandemic than skilled nursing homes — and no front-line workers have been hit harder than the caregivers who staff them. Los Angeles Times, "Surrounded by death, nursing home workers battle management and fear to protect patients," 27 Dec. 2020 Just a few weeks ago, one physician at a time was enough to staff it with crucial nursing support, but the influx of patients is outpacing us. Adam Lalley, STAT, "My first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine got me thinking about time," 24 Dec. 2020 Wisconsin is on track to run out of beds in the intensive care unit and, more importantly, the nurses to staff them, in as little as two weeks if the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 does not drop. Guy Boulton, USA TODAY, "As the crush of COVID cases continues, Wisconsin is on track to run short of ICU beds in two to six weeks," 29 Oct. 2020 Benton County Election Commission will staff the location so that voters can cast a ballot or drop off an absentee ballot, according to a news release. Arkansas Online, "County Clerk's Office closes due to covid, still open for early voting," 24 Nov. 2020 In past presidential elections, 30 to 40 people might staff Cleveland's Cuyahoga County alone. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, "'We don’t have votes to lose:' What Democrats say they must do to win Ohio," 24 Nov. 2020 Normally, hundreds of volunteers staff a special call center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to update children who call 1-877-Hi-NORAD from all over the world on Santa's location. David Williams, CNN, "Covid-19 won't stop NORAD from tracking Santa's Christmas Eve flight around the world," 21 Nov. 2020 In Hendricks, Minnesota, four people regularly staff the joint hospital, emergency department, nursing home, clinic, and home health care facility, which serves a 40-mile radius. Lois Parshley, National Geographic, "COVID-19 has been smoldering in rural America for months. Here’s why we missed it.," 20 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for staff

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for staff

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Staff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for staff


How to pronounce staff (audio)

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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Comments on staff

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