staff 1 (stăf)
n. pl. staffs or staves (stāvz)
a. A stick or cane carried as an aid in walking or climbing.
b. A stout stick used as a weapon; a cudgel.
c. A pole on which a flag is displayed; a flagstaff.
d. A rod or baton carried as a symbol of authority.
2. pl. staffs A rule or similar graduated stick used for testing or measuring, as in surveying.
3. pl. staffs
a. A group of assistants to a manager, executive, or other person in authority.
b. A group of military officers assigned to assist a commanding officer in an executive or advisory capacity.
c. The personnel who carry out a specific enterprise: the nursing staff of a hospital.
4. Something that serves as a staple or support.
5. Music A set of horizontal lines and intermediate spaces used in notation to represent a sequence of pitches, in modern notation normally consisting of five lines and four spaces. Also called stave.
tr.v. staffed, staff·ing, staffs
1. To provide with a staff of workers or assistants.
2. To serve on the staff of (an organization).
[Middle English staf, from Old English stæf.]
(click for a larger image)staff1
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.