What do you choose? Flyer or flier? What is the difference between the words, “flyer” and “flier”? That’s good questions. The simple answer is, there is no difference in meaning between the two words. With one exception, both words mean the same thing and are simply alternative spellings for the same word. The spelling flyer is older than its variant flier. The word flyer has its origin in late Middle English, dating back to the 15th century. The word flier is a more recent alternative spelling of flyer. In this article, we are going to take a look at the definitions and examples of the two words.
Flyer or Flier: the Key Differences
With both U.S. and British English, flyer and flier are used interchangeably, with the spelling flyer more commonly used than flier. In the U.S., there is a loose distinction between the two spellings. The word flyer is generally used for a small handbill or pamphlet, where flier is for people and things that fly. Though – not always!
Definitions of Flyer and Flier
Both the words flyer and flier are nouns in their two meanings.
1. A person, an animal, or a thing that flies.
- “My paper airplane is a good flyer.”
- “An eagle is a better flyer than a turkey.”
- “My grandfather was a flier in World War II.”
With this definition, a flier or flyer can refer to either the pilot or the passenger. Another use of this definition is the phrase “frequent flyer”. As in, “With my business, I get a lot of frequent flyer miles.” In this case, the flyer spelling is the preferred version. Also, the spelling flier generally is used to refer to a pilot. Though again, the two spellings are interchangeable.
2. A pamphlet, handbill, or circular is used as an advertisement or to provide information.
- “Billy’s job was to stand on the corner and hand out flyers for the church bake sale.”
- “The flier said that the art show would begin at 11 AM.”
A third definition is also a noun, but in this case, only the flyer spelling is used.
3. In textiles, a flyer is a device used to add twists to yarn. Similarly, a flyer is a rotating device used to both twist the yarn and uniformly wind it onto a spindle or bobbin.
Except for the third definition, either spelling is acceptable.
- “It was fun to watch the flyer twist and wind the yarn.”
The spelling flier is used for two slang meanings.
It is used, first in the case when someone takes a flying jump,
- “He took a flier off the cliff.”
The second informal definition is used to mean taking a risk in a venture
- “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to take a flier with those stocks.”
Flyer also is used in slang. It can be used in an expression for a successful person.
- “People call her a high flyer because she built her Fortune 500 business before turning 30.”
When To Use One Or The Other
There is no consensus on which spelling is most correct. Though current dictionaries say that flyer and flier are both correct alternative spellings, publication sources disagree on which is most proper. Since publishing companies disagree on which to use, you would have to check on the preferred style when writing for them.
Other differences are cultural. When writing for either a British or American audience, use the spelling that is preferred by that culture. It is important also to keep in mind that since different writing style guides differ, you should use the correct spelling for the style you are using.
Neither The Elements of Style or the Chicago Manual of Style state a preference. The word flyer is preferred by the Guardian, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and the website for the Oxford dictionaries. The word flier is favored by the Daily Telegraph, the Associated Press, and the American Heritage College Dictionary.
It is interesting that in Garner’s Modern English it says that flier is standard in the United States and flyer as common to British form. This distinction, however, doesn’t bear out in common usage in either the U.S. or elsewhere where English is written.
Tips for Using Flyer or Flier
- Use flyer when referring to printed marketing materials or discussing aviation-based loyalty programs.
- Opt for flier for a more colloquial tone or when expressing the idea of taking a risk.
Flyer or Flier Examples
- The marketing team designed a colorful flyer to advertise the new restaurant.
- I received a flyer for a local concert when I was walking downtown.
- Please take one of these flyers to learn more about our community services.
- The company distributes flyers to announce special deals and discounts.
- She posted the event flyer on the bulletin board at the coffee shop.
- As an experienced flier, he always packs efficiently for his trips.
- The frequent flier program offers benefits like free upgrades and lounge access.
- She is a nervous flier and prefers to take the train when possible.
- During the air show, the stunt flier amazed the crowd with daring maneuvers.
- He became a flier with the airline after years of training as a pilot.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between “flyer” and “flier”? Both “flyer” and “flier” are nouns and can be used to refer to someone or something that flies. Additionally, they can describe a pamphlet or circular used for advertisement. The usage of “flyer” is more common in American English, while “flier” is considered an acceptable variant.
Is there a preferred usage for “flyer” versus “flier”? Generally, “flyer” is the preferred form in modern American English for both printed promotional material and individuals who fly. However, some style guides may have specific preferences.
- When should “flier” be used?
- “Flier” was once recommended by certain style guides for specific cases like “frequent flier,” but this distinction is less common now.
Does “flyer” have different meanings? Yes, “flyer” can refer to:
- A printed handbill or brochure
- Someone who flies, such as a pilot
- A twisting device for yarn (less commonly)
How do I decide which form to use in my writing? Consider your audience and the guidelines of any style guide you are following. When in doubt, “flyer” is safe to use in most contexts due to its widespread acceptance.
|Flyer||Promotional materials, individuals who fly, general use in the U.S.|
|Flier||Alternative spelling, formerly used in specific contexts like “frequent flier”|
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