PR Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Do you get confused about the various meanings of PR? Read this guide to the word PR to understand each of its meanings and how to use them.

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Most everyone has heard of the term PR. It’s a common acronym, but do you know about all of the definitions? PR can mean one thing in one context but have a completely different definition in another. 

To help bring clarity to the various meanings of PR, here is a complete guide to the acronym, complete with definitions, the word’s history, synonyms and antonyms, and more. Let’s dive in. 

What Are the Definitions of PR?

As previously stated, there are multiple definitions for PR, and they are quite different. 

The first definition of PR has to do with business. In business, PR stands for “public relations.” Here is the definition of public relations:

  • Maintaining a good relationship between a particular business, organization, or entity and the general public and maintaining a quality public image for the company. 
  • The status of a business, organization, or entity’s current standing with the public.

In this context, PR most commonly refers to a department in a business, but it can also refer to a specific individual tasked with maintaining good PR. Public relations professionals may handle crisis communication with the public, strategic communication with the public via social media, or special events such as press releases or fundraising events.

PR can also refer to the current status of a company’s relationship with the public.

The abbreviation PR has a different definition in sports and athletics, particularly in sports like track and field, weightlifting, and other sports with a quantifiable outcome. In this context, PR stands for “personal record,” which means the following. 

  • The best performance (the fastest time, largest score, or greatest result) of an athlete in an official competition.

The PR acronym can also be used in a political context with an entirely different meaning. In politics, PR stands for “proportional representation”: 

  • The fundamental methodology behind a parliament, where constituents vote for parties, which then get a certain number of seats in parliament based on the number of people who voted for the party.

Where Did the Word PR Come From? 

Each definition of PR has a different origin. Here’s a brief history of how each phrase came about.

Public relations has been a concept for millennia. People care about how they are perceived by the general public, and they have always taken actions to maintain a positive public image. Still, the term public relations — and PR by association — did not come around until the late 1800s. 

The precursor to public relations was advertising circuses, concerts, and plays. In the US, some of these PR strategies evolved and were used to promote the use of railroads. This is where the concept of PR was identified and studied, and eventually, public relations specialists became more commonplace. The first documented use of the phrase was in 1897 in a book called 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature.

It is unclear when the phrase personal record was first used, but it is known that the phrase and acronym PR was first used in the sport of running to refer to a runner’s best time at a given event. Since then, other track and field events and weightlifters have adopted the term =. 

Proportional representation is a concept and philosophy that has been around since 1780, but the first instance of its use was not until 1819. Its first use in government did not come until 1840 in Australia. The system is now widely used throughout Europe in Germany, Italy, and various countries in Scandinavia. 

What Are Example Sentences Using the Word PR?

Here are some examples of the word PR using each of its various definitions. 

About Public Relations

As PR practitioners, it is our job to stand for our company’s public perception and help the public see our company name positively. 

My PR agency specializes in media relations, specifically with digital media.

The key to good PR for small businesses is strong brand awareness and a personal, authentic feel. 

About Personal Record in Sports and Competitions

I’ve been pushing to get my PR for weeks now, but I just can’t seem to shave those extra seconds off of my time. 

I was able to deadlift 405 pounds yesterday. It’s my new PR.

About Proportional Representation

PR is an incredibly effective tool in representing the people’s will as a whole, not just a select few. 

Although there are strengths to the American two-party system, I prefer a system like a parliament that has better PR. 

What Are Synonyms of PR?

Here are some synonyms for each definition of PR:

For Public Relations 

  • Marketing 
  • Promotions
  • Publicity 
  • Promotions

For Personal Record

  • Personal best 
  • Top score
  • Best time
  • Max weight
  • Record

For Proportional Representation

  • Cumulative voting

Are There Any Other Meanings?

Occasionally, PR can be used in other contexts with a simpler definition. Some will use PR as a casual acronym referring to Puerto Rico. 

With all of the different possible definitions for PR, it is important to pay attention to context clues to understand the proper meaning when somebody else uses the term. It is also important to include key context clues in your speech or writing when you use the word so that your meaning is clearly understood.


Now you know everything you need to know about the word PR. With all of its possible definitions, you should have ample opportunity to incorporate this word into your vocabulary now that you have read this complete guide. 

So, go and use PR! And if you need a refresher on any of the meanings of PR, come back to this article for a reminder. 


  1. History of PR | PR Foundation 
  2. PR | Cambridge English Dictionary 
  3. Public relations | New World Encyclopedia