If you want to make a pamphlet to advertise something, should you make a flyer or flier? What about if you travel on planes frequently, does that make you a frequent flyer or a frequent flier!?
Let’s take a look at the difference between “flyer” and “flier” and identify which is correct to use and when.
Flyer vs Flier
The short answer is that both “flyer” and “flier” are correct spellings of the word and can be used interchangeably in most contexts.
In American English, “flier” is more commonly used, while in British English, “flyer” tends to be the preferred spelling. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and the usage can vary depending on personal preference.
The word “flyer” has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. A flyer could refer to a pamphlet or leaflet made from paper with pictures or words on it. This is primarily used for advertising and spreading information. For example, if you had an English teaching business you might want to create flyers to put up on local noticeboards or in places where foreign language speakers congregate to advertise your services. You could even send a digital flyer via email.
Another common use of “flyer” is when referring to people who frequently travel on plans. Most major airline companies have a frequent flyer program to reward loyal customers.
Here are some meanings of the word “flyer” with corresponding examples:
Flyer meanings and examples
- A printed advertisement or promotional material, often used to advertise a product, service, or event. Example: “I saw a flyer advertising a sale at the mall.”
- A person or thing that flies or travels by air. Example: “The pilot was an experienced flyer.”
- A pamphlet or handbill that is distributed by hand or through the mail, often used to promote a political campaign or event. Example: “The campaign team printed thousands of flyers to promote the rally.”
- A frequent traveler on a particular airline or route. Example: “He is a loyal flyer on this airline and always gets upgraded to business class.”
- A slang term for a fast or impressive car or motorcycle. Example: “That Ferrari is a real flyer.”
How to spell flyer
As already mentioned, “flyer” is the British English spelling of the word, while flier is the modern American spelling. However, the American and English version of both Webster’s and Oxford’s dictionaries state that “flyer” is used in both spellings to describe a pamphlet that is passed out. Grammarly doesn’t correct either spelling of the word, while the Associated Press prefers “flier”. What this means is that there is no fixed, correct spelling and you can use either variation of the word.
Having said that, the use of “flyer” is now becoming a lot more common in the US, so it might not be too long before it takes precedence over “flier”. For example, almost any major airline website you look on will use the word “flyer”.
As mentioned, “flier” is now less common than “flyer” when it comes to spelling the word. However, it can still be used in place of “flyer” when referring to a person that frequently travels on a plane, for example.
Despite that, in 2017, the AP Stylebook modified its recommended spelling from “flier” to “flyer” for all instances except the expression “to take a flier,” which means “to take a risk.”
So, you could take a risk and use “flier” as your chosen spelling for other definitions of the word, but you’re probably best off sticking with “flyer”.
Flier and flyer idioms
There are several idioms that use the words “flier” and “flyer”. Here are two of the most common:
Take a flier
To take a flier means to take a risk or a chance on something, often without knowing all the facts or having a strong basis for doing so. It can also mean to invest money in a venture or speculative opportunity that has a high degree of risk.
For example, if someone decides to invest money in a startup company with little information or research, they could be said to “take a flier” on the venture.
Off to a flyer
The phrase “off to a flyer” means to start something successfully, often with a positive and strong beginning. It can be used in various contexts, such as in sports, business, or any other activity where success is measured by a good start.
For example, if a sports team wins its first several matches of the season, they could be said to be “off to a flyer.” Similarly, if a new business venture is quickly profitable in its first few months, it could also be described as “off to a flyer.”
Review: Are you off to a flyer?
“Flyer” and “flier” mean the same thing and both are correct. However, these days “flyer” is largely favored as the acceptable spelling. So, if you’re unsure go with “flyer”.
Hopefully, now you’re off to a flyer with your understanding of flyer vs flier!