staff vs staffer


Can I take it that a staffer is a member of a staff? But we also refer to “staff” as a person. So when do we use staff, and when do we use staffer?

From experience, I think staffer is used when the person is in an important group. Is this assumption right?

I’d be grateful,

Hi Cantik

The word ‘staff’ always refers to a group of people and never to one individual member of the group. The word ‘staffer’ does refer to one member of a staff in AmE, but the meaning is fairly limited. The word staffer tends to be used primarily to refer to a person in a certain type of staff. I’d say people would most often use the word staffer to refer to a member of a staff in a governmental or political organization, or in a news organization:

  • a White House staffer
  • a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer
  • a city council staffer
  • a congressional staffer
  • a CNN staffer
  • a New York Times staffer

Hi, Amy

By the way, do you really use the word “staff” to describe a bludgeon ?
it’s quite ironic that you use the same word for a group of people who work at a company and a bludgeon (a bludgeon to increase productivity probably) :lol:

Hi Alex

I doubt that I would ever use the word ‘staff’ that way, though I suppose it can be. I usually picture a staff more as being more similar to a rod – i.e. longer and/or thinner than the way I picture a bludgeon.

Yes, staffs tends to be longer. Picture all your wizardry movies, where they have the tall staff, doubling as a walking stick.

Rods tend to be considerably shorter, and heavier. Indeed, going back to the Bible, you’ll hear many references to both rod and staff, where the staff refers to a shepherd’s staff (long and slender, with the sheep’s crook at the head), where a rod is used as a cudgel, somewhat akin to a nightstick or billy stick.

I never knew this! Thanks, Amy!

So I was somewhat right in my assumption. :lol:

Thanks again, everybody, for the extra input!