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 Facebook caught a lot of flack last month for its inaction on Trump posts that Twitter flagged for glorifying violence. Allison Morrow, CNN, "Welcome to Irrational Exuberance Part Deux (aka the 2020 tech bubble)," 18 June 2020 He's also received constant flack for making it so far in the competition while consistently earning the lowest dance scores over the weeks. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Dancing With the Stars' Fans EXPLODED Over Sean Spicer’s Elimination Last Night," 12 Nov. 2019 The representatives’ spokesman tried to place blame on Johnny Carson and his joke, but the newspaper industry also caught some flack for reporting on the shortage. Hannah Evans, Dallas News, "‘Have a square to spare’? 2020’s shortage is not the first time Dallas faced a lack of toilet paper," 8 Apr. 2020 Davis, meanwhile, drew mild criticism for requesting a trade out of New Orleans, but took no flack for teaming with James. Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times, "LeBron James: Lakers partnership with Anthony Davis comes at ‘perfect’ time," 20 Oct. 2019 Anything dealing with stem cells is bound to meet at least some flack because detractors take issue with the entire premise of using stem cells, which are harvested from developing embryos. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "These Are the First Living Robots: Machines Made from Frog Stem Cells," 14 Jan. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sebastian Rios, the journalist target of the Rangers’ rescue mission, now flacks for Homeland Security and, occasionally, nudges the lever at the back of his brain that turns him invisible. oregonlive, "Matt Gallagher’s ‘Empire City’: Steve Duin review," 26 May 2020

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

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flack.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flack. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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