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[flak] /flæk/
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.
Also, flack.
1935-40; < German Fl(ieger)a(bwehr)k(anone) antiaircraft gun, equivalent to Flieger aircraft (literally, flyer) + Abwehr defense + Kanone gun, cannon
Can be confused
flack, flak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for flak
  • The plane was still flying through a stream of flak as he reasoned it out.
  • Naturally it was the foreign company that took all the flak.
  • To be a president, they agreed, you need a fair amount of confidence and you have to be comfortable taking flak.
  • Armed police in flak vests surged into her apartment.
  • The center met with a barrage of flak when it co-sponsored a course in alternative medicine at the medical college last winter.
  • He gets flak for his collection of plaid golf pants, which he makes friends wear when they lose wagers.
  • Carter's missed shot was overshadowed only by something for which he received even more flak.
  • Some had weapons, flak jackets and bulletproof vests, he said.
  • Drug companies take a lot of flak for spending as much as they do on marketing and advertising.
  • The police were equipped with flak jackets, tear gas launchers shotguns, and telescopic rifles.
British Dictionary definitions for flak


anti-aircraft fire or artillery
(informal) a great deal of adverse criticism
Word Origin
C20: from German Fl(ieger)a(bwehr)k(anone), literally: aircraft defence gun
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 flak

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for flak



: The flack description is also worth quoting

  1. Publicity; public relations material; ballyhoo, hype: Mr Mogul's latest epic was preceded by wheeling galaxies of affecting flack (1940s+)
  2. (also flacker) A publicity person or press agent: something that would cause your basic, self-respecting flack to want to slit his throat/ ''He's shown steady improvement,'' said a medical flak

: his publishers, who flack it into a best seller/ He's not flakking for ulterior motives

[origin unknown; said to be fr the name of Gene Flack, a moving-picture publicity agent, and first used in the show-business paper Variety; probably influenced by flak]


  1. An antiaircraft gun or guns; antiaircraft fire (WWII armed forces)
  2. (also flack) Severe criticism; angry blame: This order provoked little political flack/ Joe took considerable flak from white co-workers (1960s+)
  3. Trouble; fuss; dissension; static: Let's not have a lot of flak about this (1960s+)

[fr German Fliegerabwehrkanonen, ''antiaircraft gun'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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