\ 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

The 48-year-old Eberflus met Sunday with Cleveland general manager John Dorsey and other members of the Browns executive staff, which began its search by meeting with interim coach Gregg Williams on New Year’s Day. Tom Withers, The Seattle Times, "Browns interview Colts’ Eberflus after wild-card playoff win," 6 Jan. 2019 This clog is a favorite of restaurant workers, hospital staff, and other people who have to be on their feet all day. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Plantar Fasciitis Shoes, According to Experts," 4 Dec. 2018 But the cottage itself is in need of repair and has recently been used to house members of the royal staff, per The Telegraph. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything to Know About Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Move to Frogmore Cottage, Windsor," 24 Nov. 2018 There’s a reason environmental agencies don’t have people on staff. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Booming postindustrial neighborhoods often overlook polluted past," 9 Oct. 2018 The galley kitchen connects the staff quarters to the rest of the house. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "This NYC Apartment Features Stunning Views Of Central Park For $39.5 Million," 30 Dec. 2018 When Gizmodo Media’s new parent company, Univision, initially wanted to lay off 30 percent of the editorial staff, the union successfully bargained for voluntary exits instead. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "As digital media companies brace for change, unions try to cushion the blow," 26 Dec. 2018 Running through this year's list of video games that made the most impact on the Ars staff, I'm struck by the sheer variety. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 To celebrate, Verge staff members are writing essays on their own personal favorite games, and what made them stand out above the crowd. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Why Beat Saber is my game of the year," 18 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the planned austerity drive, many top bureaucrats will have their salaries and benefits slashed, leading to an exodus of top talent at agencies like the central bank and finance ministry, which are staffed by scores of Ph. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Mexican President-Elect López Obrador Is Spooking Foreign Investors," 25 Nov. 2018 Each brush engine is off-road capable, carries 500 gallons of water and is staffed by a crew of four firefighters. Alex Riggins,, "San Diego fire department to increase staffing in anticipation of weekend heatwave," 5 July 2018 From lighting to costume design, the entire production was built and is staffed by over 35 veterans. Katie Campione, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Gathers to Support Tom Hanks, Shakespeare Center of L.A. in 'Henry IV' Performance," 11 June 2018 The last floor workers are moving machinery out and manufacturing the last chips before the place is staffed only by salaried workers doing things like research and design, customer service. Tom Chiarella And James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Last Shift: What Really Happened To Those Carrier Jobs Trump Saved," 15 May 2018 In all the team anticipates the unit will be staffed by a little more than 30 people by end of year who are dedicated full-time to burn care. Maria Clark,, "New Orleans' only burn and trauma center opens at University Medical Center," 9 May 2018 The lab was not staffed Saturday night, so when a local alarm sounded on the tank at 5:06 p.m., alerting anyone within earshot that the temperature had risen to –156 degrees Celsius, no one heard it. Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, "When Your Dreams of Motherhood Are Destroyed," 1 Oct. 2018 But some publishers are staffing up, including The Atlantic, helped by funding from Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which took a majority stake in the magazine last year. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: New iPhones and more: It’s Apple launch day," 12 Sep. 2018 While the Army plans to field six of the advisory units, only one is fully staffed. New York Times,, "Pentagon may cut commando forces in Africa in major military review," 4 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

19 Jan 2019

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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