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From Middle English staf, from Old English stæf, from Proto-Germanic *stabaz. Cognate with Dutch staf, German Stab, Swedish stav.

Sense of "group of military officers that assists a commander" and similar meanings, attested from 1702, is influenced from German Stab.



staff (countable and uncountable, plural staffs or staves or staff)

A musical staff
  1. (plural staffs or staves) A long, straight, thick wooden rod or stick, especially one used to assist in walking.
    • 1927, F. E. Penny, chapter 4, in Pulling the Strings:
      The case was that of a murder. It had an element of mystery about it, however, which was puzzling the authorities. A turban and loincloth soaked in blood had been found; also a staff.
  2. (music, plural staves) A series of horizontal lines on which musical notes are written.
  3. (plural staff) The employees of a business.
    • 2011 December 16, Denis Campbell, “Hospital staff 'lack skills to cope with dementia patients'”, in Guardian:
      Most staff do not have the skills to cope with such challenging patients, who too often receive "impersonal" care and suffer from boredom, the first National Audit of Dementia found. It says hospitals should introduce "dementia champions".
    The company employed 10 new members of staff this month.
  4. (uncountable) A mixture of plaster and fibre used as a temporary exterior wall covering.W
  5. A pole, stick, or wand borne as an ensign of authority; a badge of office.
    a constable's staff
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      Methought this staff, mine office badge in court, / Was broke in twain.
    • Sir John Hayward (c.1564-1627)
      All his officers brake their staves; but at their return new staves were delivered unto them.
  6. A pole upon which a flag is supported and displayed.
  7. (archaic) The rung of a ladder.
    • Dr. J. Campbell (E. Brown's Travels)
      I ascend at one [ladder] of six hundred and thirty-nine staves.
  8. A series of verses so disposed that, when it is concluded, the same order begins again; a stanza; a stave.
    • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      Cowley found out that no kind of staff is proper for an heroic poem, as being all too lyrical.
  9. (engineering) An arbor, as of a wheel or a pinion of a watch.
  10. (surgery) The grooved director for the gorget, or knife, used in cutting for stone in the bladder.
  11. (military) An establishment of officers in various departments attached to an army, to a section of an army, or to the commander of an army. The general's staff consists of those officers about his person who are employed in carrying his commands into execution.
  12. Misspelling of staph.


Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


staff (third-person singular simple present staffs, present participle staffing, simple past and past participle staffed)

  1. (transitive) to supply (a business) with employees





staff m

  1. staff (employees)
    • 2015 September 12, “Más que un club”, in El País[1]:
      Albiol regatea la caseta de Ciudadanos y llega al área de la de Sociedad Civil Catalana, otra ONG no-nacionalista, sobre la que el periodista Jordi Borràs, por cierto, acaba de sacar articulazo vinculando a su staff con la extrema derecha, ese equipo.


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Etymology 1[edit]

19th century. Obscure, possibly from German staffieren or Old French estofer (modern French étoffer)


staff m (plural staffs)

  1. staff, mixture of plaster and fibre.
    Le staff apparaît grâce au Français Mézier qui vers 1850 a l'idée de réaliser une première corniche préfabriquée armée d'une toile de jute. Dès lors l'emploi du staff se développe rapidement jusqu'à atteindre son apogée à la belle époque. (Wikipédia)
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

20th century. From English staff


staff m (plural staffs)

  1. staff, employees of a business.
    les membres du staff.
  2. governing body (army, corporation, administration, etc.)
    Il avait été prévu une centaine d'infirmiers et un staff comprenant le médecin-chef, deux assistants, six internes. (H. Bazin, Fin asiles, 1959, p. 81)






staff m (invariable)

  1. staff (people)



staff m (uncountable)

  1. staff (employees)