I have heard the term "PR" used as a verb, but have not found this in the dictionary. The way it was used seemed to me to be a derogatory way to imply the use of public relations techniques in a less than honest or straight forward way.

Example: "Joe from the Acme Corporation is just trying to PR you. They will never get the job done in time."

Is there an actual dictionary definition that fits this meaning and usage?

  • 2
    It's a classical case of "verbification" of a noun. Not "correct" in a formal context, but very well understood.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2017 at 1:50
  • 1
    1)noun) Runner's jargon for Personal Record, which is a person's best time in a particular event. 2)verb) To achieve a PR 1) My PR for the mile is 4:54 2) I PRed yesterday by three seconds. (Urban Dictionary:urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pr) Mar 2, 2017 at 1:55
  • 5
    @mahmudkoya - I suspect that in the OP's case "PR" refers to "public relations".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2017 at 2:20
  • 2
    It is possibly a deliberate play on words, because people in PR are often guilty of "verbing", i.e. using nouns as verbs.
    – user221615
    Mar 2, 2017 at 3:18
  • Related - RSP as a verb (render safe procedures) - english.stackexchange.com/a/309904/160746
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 11, 2021 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


Evidently PR as a verb has been around for some time with the meaning of (1) do public relations work and it's not hard to see why it's also come to mean (2) to paper over an issue or problem (i.e., do nothing to solve it) or to BS or even flimflam someone if you are "all talk." I find it strange that I haven't found a formal definition of the verb that addresses these meanings, but will add one if I do.

...but the reason that they have a difficult time recruiting minority persons is in part because of the image of the police department, and when this was echoed to the mayor and the city council and the police department by way of a press conference, they immediately decided that to change the image they would put up billboards saying Houston police officers are good people, or something to that effect, so they want to PR the problem away and you cannot PR this type of negative image away. Oversight Hearings before the Committee on the D.C. House of Representatives, 96th Congress; Problems in Urban Centers (1980)

Even my own mother, who, upon hearing about one exciting upcoming project or another, has suggested that I do a good job of “PR-ing” for the client. Allison Brinkman; To PR or Not to PR: PR is Not a Verb!" (2010)


MetaEd actually answered my question in a comment on 2 Mar by pointing me to a WordReference.com discussion where the OP says this has entered English via Russian, where PR as a verb" has become common:

Can I say XXX (name of the company) donate money to charities, but they don't do it because they are so kind but to PR themselves.

I'm asking this because 'PR' has found its place in the Russian language and we often use this word the way like in the examples above (I mean colloquially).

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