verb (used without object)
- to serve as a press agent or publicist: to flack for a new rock group.
verb (used with object)
- to promote; publicize: to flack a new record.
- antiaircraft fire, especially as experienced by the crews of combat airplanes at which the fire is directed.
- criticism; hostile reaction; abuse: Such an unpopular decision is bound to draw a lot of flak from the press.
- mainly US and Canadian a press or publicity agent
- a variant spelling of flak
- anti-aircraft fire or artillery
- informal a great deal of adverse criticism
“publicity or press agent,” 1945, also as a verb by that year, said to have been coined in show biz magazine “Variety” (but this is not the first attested use), supposedly from name of Gene Flack, a movie agent, but influenced by flak. There was a Gene Flack who was an advertising executive in the U.S. during the 1940s, but he seems to have sold principally biscuits, not movies.
1938, from German Flak, condensed from Fliegerabwehrkanone, literally “pilot warding-off cannon.” Sense of “anti-aircraft fire” is 1940; metaphoric sense of “criticism” is c.1963 in American English.