[tip-staf, -stahf]
noun, plural tip·staves [tip-steyvz] /ˈtɪpˌsteɪvz/, tip·staffs.
  1. an attendant or crier in a court of law.
  2. a staff tipped with metal, formerly carried as a badge of office, as by a constable.
  3. any official who carried such a staff.

Origin of tipstaff

1535–45; shortened form of earlier tipped staff; see tip1, -ed3, staff1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tipstaff

Historical Examples of tipstaff

  • His arm was grasped roughly by a tipstaff, who hurried to his side.

    Pickett's Gap

    Homer Greene

  • "The Judge wants you back at the Court, Mr. Blake," said the tipstaff.

    An Outback Marriage

    Andrew Barton Paterson

  • The d'Herouvilles are descended from a tipstaff in the time of Robert of Normandy.

    Modeste Mignon

    Honore de Balzac

  • At a door a tipstaff laid his hand roughly on the arm of Mr. Thorndike.

    Once Upon A Time

    Richard Harding Davis

  • "I think you will be able to get anything out of him, when you get him there," said the tipstaff.

    A Jacobite Exile

    G. A. Henty

British Dictionary definitions for tipstaff


  1. a court official having miscellaneous duties, mostly concerned with the maintenance of order in court
  2. a metal-tipped staff formerly used as a symbol of office

Word Origin for tipstaff

C16 tipped staff; see tip 1, staff 1
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 tipstaff

1540s, "tipped staff" (truncheon with a tip or cap of metal) carried as an emblem of office, from tip (n.) + staff (n.). As the name of an official who carries one (especially a sheriff's officer, bailiff, constable, court crier, etc.) it is recorded from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper