Sunday, April 22, 2007


Flak about flacks

On reading a blog entry from litbrit the other day, I came across a quote she took from (emphasis mine):

PR flaks are paid to protect clients but the silence from ChemNutra CEO Stephen S. Miller and his wife Sally Qing Miller is deafening.
That made me recall all the times I've read about someone "taking flack" for something (no specific reference available, but here's a Google search that'll show what I mean).

They're backwards; we have another example of writers being homophonically challenged.

When one is attacked about something, one figuratively “takes flak” — literally, anti-aircraft fire, an acronym made from the German “Fliegerabwehrkanone”. It's clear from its origin as an acronym that no “c” belongs there.

On the other hand, “a flack”, with the “c”, is slang for a press agent or publicist. It's one of those “origin unknown” words, but one story says it comes from the name of a press agent called Gene Flack.

Any flack who gets it wrong will take flak from me.

1 comment:

Dr. Momentum said...

Thanks - I notice that I have gone half and half with my usage of "flak," even though I should know better. I am familiar with the origin. (I don't think I've ever used the "press flack" phrase.)

I will be unlikely to forget this henceforth.