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[staf, stahf] /stæf, stɑf/
noun, plural staffs for 1–5, 9; staves
[steyvz] /steɪvz/ (Show IPA)
or staffs for 6–8, 10, 11.
a group of persons, as employees, charged with carrying out the work of an establishment or executing some undertaking.
a group of assistants to a manager, superintendent, or executive.
a member of a staff.
  1. a body of officers without command authority, appointed to assist a commanding officer.
  2. the parts of any army concerned with administrative matters, planning, etc., rather than with actual participation in combat.
those members of an organization serving only in an auxiliary or advisory capacity on a given project.
Compare line1 (def 38).
a stick, pole, or rod for aid in walking or climbing, for use as a weapon, etc.
a rod or wand serving as a symbol of office or authority, as a crozier, baton, truncheon, or mace.
a pole on which a flag is hung or displayed.
something that supports or sustains.
Also, stave. Music. a set of horizontal lines, now five in number, with the corresponding four spaces between them, on which music is written.
Archaic. the shaft of a spear, lance, etc.
of or relating to a military or organizational staff:
a staff officer; staff meetings.
(of a professional person) employed on the staff of a corporation, publication, institution, or the like rather than being self-employed or practicing privately:
a staff writer; staff physicians at the hospital.
verb (used with object)
to provide with a staff of assistants or workers:
She staffed her office with excellent secretaries.
to serve on the staff of.
to send to a staff for study or further work (often followed by out):
The White House will staff out the recommendations before making a decision.
verb (used without object)
to hire employees, as for a new office or project (sometimes followed by up):
Next month we'll begin staffing up for the reelection campaign.
Origin of staff1
before 900; Middle English staf (noun), Old English stæf; cognate with Dutch staf, German Stab, Old Norse stafr staff, Sanskrit stabh- support
Related forms
staffless, adjective
unstaffed, adjective
well-staffed, adjective
Can be confused
staff, staph.
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for well-staffed


noun (pl) (for senses 1,3,4) staffs (pl) (for senses 5-9) staffs, staves (steɪvz)
a group of people employed by a company, individual, etc, for executive, clerical, sales work, etc
(modifier) attached to or provided for the staff of an establishment: a staff doctor
the body of teachers or lecturers of an educational institution, as distinct from the students
the officers appointed to assist a commander, service, or central headquarters organization in establishing policy, plans, etc
a stick with some special use, such as a walking stick or an emblem of authority
something that sustains or supports: bread is the staff of life
a pole on which a flag is hung
(mainly Brit) a graduated rod used in surveying, esp for sighting to with a levelling instrument Usual US name rod
(music) Also called stave
  1. the system of horizontal lines grouped into sets of five (four in the case of plainsong) upon which music is written. The spaces between them are also used, being employed in conjunction with a clef in order to give a graphic indication of pitch
  2. any set of five lines in this system together with its clef: the treble staff
(transitive) to provide with a staff
Word Origin
Old English stæf; related to Old Frisian stef, Old Saxon staf, German Stab, Old Norse stafr, Gothic Stafs; see stave


(US) a mixture of plaster and hair used to cover the external surface of temporary structures and for decoration
Word Origin
C19: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for well-staffed



Old English stæf "walking stick, strong pole used for carrying, rod used as a weapon" (also, in plural, "letter, character, writing," cf. stæfcræft "grammar"), from Proto-Germanic *stabaz (cf. Old Saxon staf, Old Norse stafr, Old Frisian stef, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch staf, Old High German stab, German Stab, Gothic *stafs "element;" Middle Dutch stapel "pillar, foundation"), from PIE root *stebh- "post, stem, to support, place firmly on, fasten" (cf. Old Lithuanian stabas "idol," Lithuanian stebas "staff, pillar;" Old Church Slavonic stoboru "pillar;" Sanskrit stabhnati "supports;" Greek stephein "to tie around, encircle, wreathe," staphyle "grapevine, bunch of grapes;" Old English stapol "post, pillar").

Sense of "group of military officers that assists a commander" is attested from 1702, apparently from German, from the notion of the "baton" that is a badge of office or authority (a sense attested in English from 1530s). Meaning "group of employees (as at an office or hospital)" is first found 1837. Staff of life "bread" is from the Biblical phrase "to break the staff of bread" (Lev. xxvi:26), translating Hebrew matteh lekhem.



"to provide with a staff of assistants," 1859, from staff (n.). Related: Staffed; staffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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well-staffed in Medicine

staff (stāf)

  1. A specific group of workers.

  2. See director.

v. staffed, staff·ing, staffs
  1. To provide with a staff of workers or assistants.

  2. To serve on the staff of.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for well-staffed


Related Terms

chief of staff

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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