Nearby words

  1. stadiometer,
  2. stadium,
  3. stadium jacket,
  4. stadle,
  5. stadtholder,
  6. staff association,
  7. staff captain,
  8. staff cell,
  9. staff college,
  10. staff corporal

Origin of staff

before 900; Middle English staf (noun), Old English stæf; cognate with Dutch staf, German Stab, Old Norse stafr staff, Sanskrit stabh- support

Related formsstaff·less, adjectiveun·staffed, adjectivewell-staffed, adjective

Can be confusedstaff staph

Usage note


[staf, stahf]


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

Origin of staff

1890–95, Americanism; perhaps < German Stoff stuff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for staff

British Dictionary definitions for staff



noun plural for senses 1,3,4 staffs or plural for senses 5-9 staffs or 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 establishmenta 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 supportsbread is the staff of life
a pole on which a flag is hung
mainly British a graduated rod used in surveying, esp for sighting to with a levelling instrumentUsual US name: rod
Also called: stave music
  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 clefthe treble staff


(tr) to provide with a staff

Word Origin for staff

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 for 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

Word Origin and History for staff
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for staff




A specific group of workers.


To provide with a staff of workers or assistants.
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.