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[pur-suh-nel] /ˌpɜr səˈnɛl/
a body of persons employed in an organization or place of work.
(used with a plural verb) persons:
All personnel are being given the day off.
Origin of personnel
1825-35; < French, noun use of personnel (adj.) personal < Late Latin persōnāle, neuter of persōnālis; replacing personal (noun), Anglicized form of French personnel; compare German Personal, variant of Personale, Italian personale. See matériel
Can be confused
personal, personnel (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
2. Some usage guides object to the use of personnel as a plural. However, this use is well established and standard in all varieties of speech and writing. The use of personnel with a preceding number is largely restricted to business and government communications: Six personnel were transferred. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for personnel
  • New research suggests flexible workplaces promote personnel well-being and more healthful behavior from employees.
  • Using cranes or derricks to hoist personnel poses a significant risk to employees being lifted.
  • Rescue personnel will arrive shortly to help you.
  • There aren't enough divers in those areas, and it takes time to train personnel to dispose of lionfish.
  • In the meantime a change was taking place in the personnel of political leadership.
  • The 911 dispatcher sends emergency personnel to the location for recovery.
  • The personnel of the guards is of very inferior character.
  • The personnel office there advised me to go back to school or gain business experience.
  • Station personnel braved extreme cold to safely retrieve the bundles.
  • The personnel who carry out a specific enterprise: the nursing staff of a hospital.
British Dictionary definitions for personnel


the people employed in an organization or for a service or undertaking Compare materiel
  1. Also called human resources. the office or department that interviews, appoints, or keeps records of employees
  2. (as modifier): a personnel officer
Word Origin
C19: from French, ultimately from Late Latin persōnālis personal (adj); see person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for personnel

1837, from French personnel (a contrastive term to matériel), noun use of personnel (adj.) "personal," from Old French personel (see personal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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