noun (1)
\ ˈflak How to pronounce flack (audio) \

Definition of flack

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: one who provides publicity especially : press agent a public relations flack


noun (2)

less common spelling of

1 : antiaircraft guns
2 : the bursting shells fired from flak
3 : criticism, opposition She has taken a good deal of flak for espousing that view.— E. J. Kahn, Jr. When I was a restaurant bar manager I sometimes found myself taking flak from my customers for our high prices …— Rob Hill


flacked; flacking; flacks

Definition of flack (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to act as a press agent or promoter for something … Taylor Swift (Diet Coke), Beyonce (Pepsi) and Steve Harvey (Coke again) have flacked for soda.— Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz The director has been flacking for the up-and-coming stars in her new movie.

transitive verb

: to provide publicity for or promote (someone or something) Since "Born to Run" was published in late September, the author has been flacking it in bookstores and theaters across the country.— Casey Seiler

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Other Words from flack

Noun (1)

flackery \ ˈfla-​k(ə-​)rē How to pronounce flackery (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?


The word flack was first used as a noun meaning "publicity agent" during the late 1930s. According to one rumor, the word was coined in tribute to a well-known movie publicist of the time, Gene Flack. Another rumor holds that flack derives from a similar-sounding Yiddish word for someone who talks about someone else's affairs. The editors of Merriam-Webster dictionaries remain skeptical about these claims and have listed the etymology of flack as "unknown." We can say with confidence, however, that the verb form of the word appeared in Maclean's in 1963. You may also be familiar with another "flack" - a noun meaning "criticism" or "opposition." This unrelated homograph stems from a misspelling of "flak," a German acronym and English word for antiaircraft guns.

Examples of flack in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This applies not just to customers but to every single player in this great charade of restauranting: chefs, restaurateurs, critics, purveyors, flacks, real estate brokers, and members of the third estate. Joshua David Stein, Town & Country, "Nobody Really Goes to Peter Luger for the Food Anyway," 6 Nov. 2019 The national food magazine received flack from food writers for including Austin restaurant Carpenters Hall in the list. Josie Sexton, The Know, "Bon Appétit has named a Denver restaurant one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants," 17 Sep. 2019 Additionally, my brother and some other friends in my life love to give me flack for choosing a vegetarian option a restaurant. Caitlin Troutman, Teen Vogue, "What Going Vegan for the Environment Means for My Eating Disorder," 23 Aug. 2019 The shoe giant has received flack for several of its decisions in recent years, including last week's decision to cancel the release of a shoe featuring an early design of the American flag. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Valley coffee shops wade into Tempe Starbucks controversy," 8 July 2019 But a group of employees rode the hurricane out on the island, causing Disney to catch flack from family members of the crew who argued the line should not have allowed them to stay on Castaway through the storm. Chabeli Herrera, orlandosentinel.com, "After Hurricane Dorian, cruise lines’ private islands in the Bahamas suffer limited damage," 3 Sep. 2019 Naturally, these fans are getting plenty of flack for getting ahead of themselves. SI.com, "Paulo Dybala’s Latest Instagram Post Has Manchester United Fans Excited," 4 Aug. 2019 Apple Maps Apple Maps gets a lot of flack from its disastrous launch and the fact that Google Maps has been so much better for so long. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "iOS 13 hands-on: dark mode, Apple Maps, Reminders, and more," 24 June 2019 In April, Katherine caught flack from an Instagram commentor when Baena wasn't included in a post in honor of National Siblings Day. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "Katherine Schwarzenegger's half-brother Joseph Baena sends warm wishes after wedding," 11 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of flack

Noun (1)

1933, in the meaning defined above


1963, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for flack

Noun (1) and Verb

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for flack

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The first known use of flack was in 1933

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Flack.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flack. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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