General English


  • verb to employ workers

Information & Library Science

  • verb to provide the staff for a company or organisation


  • noun people who work in an organisation such as a hospital, clinic or doctor’s surgery


  • noun a group of officers and other ranks, who assist the commander of a large tactical grouping (such as a brigade, division, corps, etc.), and who form the headquarters


  • verb to provide employees for an organisation

Origin & History of “staff”

Staff is a widespread Germanic word, with relatives in German stab, Dutch and Swedish staf, and Danish stav. these point back to a common Germanic ancestor *stabaz. Its ancestral meaning is ‘stick’, and its use as a collective term for ‘employees’, which dates in English from the 18th century, probably originated as an allusion to the carrying of a staff or ‘stick’ of office by a person in charge of subordinates – who thus became subsumed metaphorically under the notion of his ‘staff’.