These are some sentences from dictionaries with the word "staff":

Cambridge dictionary: There are over a hundred staff in the company.

Oxford dictionary: the pending lay-off of fifty staff

Why is it fifty or a hundred staff and not "members" of the staff? I thought that staff means:

(Professions) a group of people employed by a company, individual, etc, for executive, clerical, sales work, etc (source: Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition)

but these sentences are talking about fifty and a hundred individuals, right?

  • 2
    You can read staff to mean members of staff Apr 13, 2022 at 22:38
  • The very first definition in the Cambridge Dictionary - the one with the example that you quoted- states [S, + sing/ pl verb ]. I agree that that's a bit cryptic, but it shows that staff is always singlular (ie not staffs) even when used with a plural verb or (as in the example that you quoted) when a number is specified. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/staff
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 15, 2022 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


The top few definitions at The Free Dictionary don't mention the plural form "staff". M-W makes clear that when "staff" has this meaning, the plural form is "staff":

e plural staff : a member of a staff
// employs three full-time staff

  • 1
    The definition listed is actually one of many on that page, including ones covered in your answer. The Free Dictionary is actually a compilation of several credible dictionaries.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 14, 2022 at 15:50
  • @ColleenV Yes, there are some definitions lower down that page that indicate the plural form "staff". I've edited the first sentence of my answer. Thanks! Apr 15, 2022 at 0:10
  • Thanks, I'll try to make better research next time, before posting :) Apr 15, 2022 at 14:00

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