The Plural of Staff: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

If you have ever needed to use the plural form of staff and wondered what it is, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you what a staff is, the plural form of the word, the history and origin, synonyms, and examples of the word in context. 

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What Is the Definition of Staff?

The singular form of the word staff is described as:

  • a long stick carried in the hand for support in walking
  • a supporting rod: such as
  • archaic : SHAFT sense 1a(1)
  • a crosspiece in a ladder or chair : RUNG
  • the staff of life
  • a pivoted arbor
  • CLUB, CUDGEL
  • CROSIER
  • a rod carried as a symbol of office or authority
  • the horizontal lines with their spaces on which music is written – called also stave
  • any of various graduated sticks or rules used for measuring : ROD

A staff is most commonly known as a long walking stick. When you hear staff you might think of a shepherd and a symbolic manger scene. Many people use them when hiking rough terrain which helps give them something to balance them, support them, and they often have a spike on the end which digs into the dirt creating leverage. The kind used by shepherds usually have some form of hook on the end used to steer sheep or cattle in the direction they want them to go. 

What Is the Plural Form of Staff?

The plural form of staff follows the typical rules of American English by simply adding an “s” to the end making it staffs. Making staff plural though actually changes the meaning of the word as a collective noun. Here are the new definitions for staffs: 

  • a group of people chiefly responsible for the internal operations of an institution or business
  • a group of military officers appointed to assist a civil executive or commanding officer
  • military or naval officers not eligible for operational command, ex. the general’s staff
  • the personnel who assist a director in carrying out an assigned task, ex. hospital staff
  • plural staff: a member of the staff 
  • employs three full-time staff, chief of staff, the entire staff, etc.

If you want to refer to many walking sticks you would use the plural staves. For example: these staves are for sale. 

The History and Origin of the Word

The word staff originally comes from Old English and German roots. The root words are Old English stæf of stab walking stick or a rod used as a weapon. The Middle English was staf. The Dutch also used the word from its root stebh meaning post, to support, to place firmly on. In the 1600s the word staff was used to describe a flagpole and in the 1700s we see it used to describe military officers from the German word “batton” meaning staff-sergeant. 

Synonyms to Staff

  • Force- strength or energy exerted or brought to bear : cause of motion or change : active power 
  • the forces of nature
  • the motivating force in her life
  • Help – to give assistance or support to 
  • help a child with homework
  • Labor Force- WORKFORCE
  • Manpower- power available from or supplied by the physical effort of human beings
  • Personnel-  a body of persons usually employed (as in a factory or organization)
  • Workforce-  the workers engaged in a specific activity or enterprise 
    • the factory’s workforce
  • Baton- a heavy rigid stick used as a weapon or for punishment 
    • the detainee claimed that the police had beat him with their batons even after he had been shackled
  • Cane- a heavy rigid stick used as a weapon or for punishment 
    • in those days corporal punishment was common, and the cane was regarded as another one of the schoolmaster’s educational tools
  • Rod- a heavy rigid stick used as a weapon or for punishment 
    • arrested for using a rod on his dogs in violation of the state’s animal cruelty laws

Example Sentences of the Word in Context

  • In a typical year, about 150 staff are employed to oversee programs.

Mike Nolan, chicagotribune.com, “Shift by many schools to remote learning has Mokena nonprofit scrambling,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • Officers and staff have been working remotely and at the Minneapolis Convention Center since the original Third Precinct was torched.

Talia Kaplan, Fox News, “Minneapolis reverend on $4.8M new police HQ: City Council has ‘zero clue in what they’re doing’,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • Players, coaches and many support staff are tested every day through the end of August, in accordance with an agreement reached between the league and the NFL Players Association.

 Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, “NFL to investigate rash of positive COVID-19 test results all linked to New Jersey lab,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • Hey, Mary Kay: What’s the body language of the players under the new coaches and staff?

 cleveland, “How has rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. looked in Browns training camp? Hey, Mary Kay!,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • At least 4,348 deaths have occurred among residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, a figure that represents 41.55% of the state total for coronavirus deaths of residents.

 Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, “Florida’s COVID-19 cases top 600,000,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • During that same period, citing financial concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meruelo furloughed half the team’s staff in April.

 Richard Morin, The Arizona Republic, “One year later, what happened to all the Arizona Coyotes’ positive momentum?,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • Giving staff an extra week to prepare will help tremendously, Spieser said.

 Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, “Superintendent: Pushing back opening of Milford schools to Aug. 31 ‘the right thing to do’,” 23 Aug. 2020 

  • All employees wear masks and have their temperatures checked, from restaurant staff to the front desk.

 Caroline Eubanks, Travel + Leisure, “This New Charleston Hotel Has Secret Cocktail Windows Where You Can Drink a Socially Distant Negroni,” 23 Aug. 2020

Summary

The English language can be a tricky thing since it is a compilation of many other languages. Finding the correct plural forms of words is an important step to becoming well educated. Now you are an expert on all things regarding Staves. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/staff
  2. https://www.etymonline.com/word/staff
  3. https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/ct-sta-daycare-program-remote-learning-st-0824-20200823-jlqzk6dqcje4jnbhs7e23rkuey-story.html
  4. https://www.foxnews.com/us/minneapolis-reverend-city-council-zero-clue
  5. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2020/08/23/nfl-investigate-positive-covid-19-results-linked-new-jersey-lab/3423788001/
  6. https://www.cleveland.com/browns/2020/08/how-has-rookie-left-tackle-jedrick-wills-jr-looked-in-browns-training-camp-hey-mary-kay.html
  7. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/coronavirus/fl-ne-florida-coronavirus-deaths-cases-sunday-august-23-20200823-arxub4i7drecjjg2pihasr5ity-story.html
  8. https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nhl/coyotes/2020/08/22/one-year-later-what-happened-all-arizona-coyotes-positive-momentum/3413777001/
  9. https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2020/08/22/milford-schools-delay-start-date-week-meet-covid-19-challenges/3419094001/
  10. https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/hotel-emeline-foxhole-cocktail-windows