noun, plural staffs for 1–5, 9; staves [steyvz] /steɪvz/ or staffs for 6–8, 10, 11.
- 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.
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
Origin of staff1
- a verse or stanza of a poem or song.
- the alliterating sound in a line of verse, as the w-sound in wind in the willows.
verb (used with object), staved or stove, stav·ing.
verb (used without object), staved or stove, stav·ing.
- to put, ward, or keep off, as by force or evasion.
- to prevent in time; forestall: He wasn't able to stave off bankruptcy.
Origin of stave
Synonyms for stave
Origin of staff2
Related Words for stavesthwart, avert, forestall, avoid, preclude, foil, counteract, anticipate, halt, obstruct, prohibit, forbid, obviate, restrict, hamper, check, debar, repress, arrest, restrain
Examples from the Web for staves
Contemporary Examples of staves
It is clear to you that she intends to use the staves as oars.Whatever You Do Someone Will Die. A Short Story About Impossible Choices in Iraq
Nathan Bradley Bethea
August 31, 2014
In Italy he decides that fascism is in fact “a sort of boy scout regime; but instead of staves it carries revolvers.”The Grand Tour in Style: Robert Byron’s ‘Europe in the Looking-Glass’
November 16, 2012
Another common trick is to flavor inexpensive wines with oak chips or staves.The Great Wine Cover-up
August 18, 2009
Historical Examples of staves
There was a sound of rude voices, and a clashing of swords and staves.A Little Book of Profitable Tales
At this, half a score reached him their staves, and he took the stoutest and heaviest of them all.The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
These were in metal, and were raised at the ends of spears or staves.The Cat of Bubastes
G. A. Henty
I had the manager on board and three or four pilgrims with their staves—all complete.Heart of Darkness
With brooms and staves they ran to meet it far from their dwellings, beating it with fury.
noun plural for senses 1,3,4 staffs or plural for senses 5-9 staffs or staves (steɪvz)
- 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 clefthe treble staff
Word Origin for staff
Word Origin for staff
- Britishan individual group of five lines and four spaces used in staff notation
- another word for staff 1 (def. 9)
verb staves, staving, staved or stove
Word Origin for stave
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.
"piece of a barrel," 1750, back-formation from staves (late 14c.), plural of staff (cf. leaves/leaf), possibly from Old English, but not recorded there. The verb (to stave in, past tense stove) is 1590s, originally nautical, on notion of bashing in the staves of a cask and letting out the contents; stave off (1620s) is literally "keep off with a staff," as of dogs.
"to provide with a staff of assistants," 1859, from staff (n.). Related: Staffed; staffing.