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noun (1)

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


2 of 3

noun (2)

less common spelling of flak

: antiaircraft guns
: the bursting shells fired from flak
: 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


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flacked; flacking; flacks

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

Did you know?

The verb flack comes from a noun flack: during the late 1930s, flack came to be used as a name for a press agent. 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 it 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." 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
The most recent new Taylor Swift album, Midnights, even caught flack for seeming to recycle Antonoff’s past work. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 8 Mar. 2024 Over the past few years, Toyota had received flack from the auto industry and media for its reluctance to launch a wider selection of EVs, while continuing to build its sizable lineup around hybrids. Peter Lyon, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 Timberlake received flack for performing the song, leading Spears to write an apology on Instagram. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 25 Feb. 2024 For all the flack that social media can get these days, one beautiful benefit is its power to propel connections. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 1 Feb. 2024 In recent years, comic-book films have caught considerable flack from directors and actors alike, and even audiences seem to be feeling a bit of franchise fatigue. Emily St. Martin, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2024 LaGuardia is the only NYC-area stop for the Delta Shuttle, which runs to Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Airport Amenities LaGuardia used to catch a lot of flack for its subpar facilities. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, 10 Jan. 2024 Google is taking flack for its benchmark data, too. IEEE Spectrum, 18 Dec. 2023 There’s Joe Lombardi, who caught his share of flack as offensive coordinator for the Chargers and who now has that job for the Broncos. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 5 Dec. 2023
YouTube Premium Okay, so, really, ginormous Google doesn’t need anybody to flack for it and say nice things about its services. Vulture, 27 Oct. 2023 Consider the case of Karen Hinton, a former Cuomo aide and flack for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 10 Aug. 2021 Her job is to flack for her boss, and part of my job is to listen to complaints. Paul A. Gigot, WSJ, 13 Dec. 2020 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, 26 May 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'flack.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1) and Verb

origin unknown

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1933, in the meaning defined above


1963, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of flack was in 1933


Dictionary Entries Near flack

Cite this Entry

“Flack.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flack. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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