• synonyms


[ kwawr-ter-staf, -stahf ]
/ ˈkwɔr tərˌstæf, -ˌstɑf /

noun, plural quar·ter·staves [kwawr-ter-steyvz] /ˈkwɔr tərˌsteɪvz/, quar·ter·staffs.

a former English weapon consisting of a stout pole 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long, tipped with iron.
exercise or fighting with this weapon.


business, staff, sap, cudgel, works, bludgeon, baton, mace, blackjack, truncheon, hammer, nightstick, hickory, mallet, shillelagh, billy, swatter, rosewood, cosh, persuader

Nearby words

quartermaster corps, quartermaster general, quartern, quarters, quartersaw, quarterstaff, quartes, quartet, quartic, quartile, quarto

Origin of quarterstaff

First recorded in 1540–50; quarter + staff1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quarterstaff

British Dictionary definitions for quarterstaff


/ (ˈkwɔːtəˌstɑːf) /

noun plural -staves (-ˌsteɪvz, -ˌstɑːvz)

a stout iron-tipped wooden staff about 6ft long, formerly used in England as a weapon
the use of such a staff in fighting, sport, or exercise

Word Origin for quarterstaff

C16: of uncertain 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

Word Origin and History for quarterstaff



also quarter-staff, 1540s (quarter-stroke "stroke with a quarterstaff" is attested from early 15c.), stout pole, six to eight feet long (six-and-a-half sometimes is given as the standard length), tipped with iron, formerly a weapon used by the English peasantry. From staff (n.). The quarter likely is in reference to its operation.

It was grasped by one hand in the middle, and by the other between the middle and the end. In the attack the latter hand shifted from one quarter of the staff to the other, giving the weapon a rapid circular motion, which brought the ends on the adversary at unexpected points. [Century Dictionary]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper