[ staf, stahf ]
See synonyms for staff on
noun,plural staffs for 1-5, 9; staves [steyvz] /steɪvz/ or staffs for 6-8, 10, 11.
  1. a group of persons, as employees, charged with carrying out the work of an establishment or executing some undertaking.

  2. a group of assistants to a manager, superintendent, or executive.

  1. a member of a staff.

  2. Military.

    • a body of officers without command authority, appointed to assist a commanding officer.

    • the parts of any army concerned with administrative matters, planning, etc., rather than with actual participation in combat.

  3. those members of an organization serving only in an auxiliary or advisory capacity on a given project.: Compare line1 (def. 38).

  4. a stick, pole, or rod for aid in walking or climbing, for use as a weapon, etc.

  5. a rod or wand serving as a symbol of office or authority, as a crozier, baton, truncheon, or mace.

  6. a pole on which a flag is hung or displayed.

  7. something that supports or sustains.

  8. Also stave .Music. a set of horizontal lines, now five in number, with the corresponding four spaces between them, on which music is written.

  9. Archaic. the shaft of a spear, lance, etc.

  1. of or relating to a military or organizational staff: a staff officer; staff meetings.

  2. (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)
  1. to provide with a staff of assistants or workers: She staffed her office with excellent secretaries.

  2. to serve on the staff of.

  1. 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)
  1. 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 staff

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun staf(fe), stafte, Old English stæf, stæb; cognate with Dutch staf, German Stab, Old Norse stafr staff, Sanskrit root stabh- “support”

Grammar notes for staff

Other words from staff

  • staffless, adjective
  • un·staffed, adjective
  • well-staffed, adjective

Words that may be confused with staff

Words Nearby staff

Other definitions for staff (2 of 2)

[ staf, stahf ]

  1. a composition of plaster and fibrous material used for a temporary finish and in ornamental work, as on exposition buildings.

Origin of staff

An Americanism dating back to 1890–95; of obscure origin; perhaps from German Stoff stuff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use staff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for staff (1 of 2)


/ (stɑːf) /

nounplural for senses 1,3,4 staffs or plural for senses 5-9 staffs or staves (steɪvz)
  1. a group of people employed by a company, individual, etc, for executive, clerical, sales work, etc

  2. (modifier) attached to or provided for the staff of an establishment: a staff doctor

  1. the body of teachers or lecturers of an educational institution, as distinct from the students

  2. the officers appointed to assist a commander, service, or central headquarters organization in establishing policy, plans, etc

  3. a stick with some special use, such as a walking stick or an emblem of authority

  4. something that sustains or supports: bread is the staff of life

  5. a pole on which a flag is hung

  6. mainly British a graduated rod used in surveying, esp for sighting to with a levelling instrument: Usual US name: rod

  7. Also called: stave music

    • 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

    • any set of five lines in this system together with its clef: the treble staff

  1. (tr) to provide with a staff

Origin of staff

Old English stæf; related to Old Frisian stef, Old Saxon staf, German Stab, Old Norse stafr, Gothic Stafs; see stave

British Dictionary definitions for staff (2 of 2)


/ (stɑːf) /

  1. US a mixture of plaster and hair used to cover the external surface of temporary structures and for decoration

Origin of staff

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