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staff noun (plural in senses 1-3 staffs, in senses 4-6 staffs or staves) 1 a the total number of employees working in an establishment or organization; b the employees working for or assisting a manager. 2 the teachers, lecturers, etc of a school, college, university, etc as distinct from the pupils or students. 3 military the officers assisting a senior commander, as adj. staff sergeant. 4 any stick or rod, especially one that is carried in the hand as a sign of authority, dignity, etc. 5 (also flagstaff) a pole that a flag is hung from. 6 music a set of lines and spaces on which music is written. Also called stave. verb (staffed, staffing) to provide (an establishment) with staff. adj employed on a permanent basis. staffed adj, in compounds found themselves understaffed.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon staf.
There is often uncertainty as to whether collective nouns such as staff should be followed by a singular or plural verb. Either is correct, depending on whether the group is being thought of as a single unit or as a number of individuals.
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