Favorite

Flack flak 

"It's worth noting that Forbes caught quite a bit of flack because its article posted numerous incorrect population figures for the various cities when compared with the latest Census counts."

Old-time copy editors insisted that flak was the word that means "criticism; hostile reaction." Flak originally was World War II slang for anti-aircraft fire, derived, according to Paul Dickson's "War Slang," from "the German Fliegerabwehrkanone (a gun used to drive off aircraft)." By extension, flak came to mean verbal enemy fire too.

Random House more or less agrees with Dickson on the origin of flak, but it also says that flack is now an acceptable alternate spelling. Flack originally was a "sometimes disparaging" slang term for a publicist, a PR man. The same copy editors who insisted on the flak spelling for "abuse" were scornful of flacks, largely because the flacks made more money than the editors. Random House says that flack dates from 1935-40 — making it the same age as flak — and is "said to be after Gene Flack, a movie publicity agent."

A news magazine reported that an actor slapped a Ukrainian journalist who'd tried to kiss him and then said "He's lucky I didn't sucker punch him." A drama review in the same issue said: "High-concept versions of Shakespeare don't always succeed, but once this one gets rolling, you'll feel it like a sucker punch."

As every storm became a firestorm, and every start a jump start, it now seems that every punch is becoming a sucker punch. That term used to be applied exclusively to a sneak attack, a punch thrown while the other party was unsuspecting, maybe even reaching out to shake hands. Now, even a punch thrown in heated battle might be called a sucker punch, and the term seems to refer to severity as much as surprise.

The on-line Urban Dictionary says that a sucker punch "primarily involves a closed fist contacting the soft underbelly of a person (beneath the rib cage) at a high velocity, causing the ensuing force to press upward on the victim's diaphragm, leading to a sudden expulsion of air from the victim's mouth and lungs. This opening blow leaves the victim open to various other attacks ..."

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Sorry, sorry - I mis-spoke or mis-wrote - the ACTUAL headline on the article was…

    • on May 23, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Sez who, Al? All Trump said is that he has the right as President, to…

    • on May 23, 2017
  • Re: Goodbye, Mr. Trump

    • Well, the irony is delicious, but the fact of the matter has been that the…

    • on May 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation