There is a lot of confusion about these two words, partly because there isn’t much consensus on how to use them, but today I want to address that confusion. What’s the difference between flier and flyer? Is it a dialectal difference? Are they used in different contexts or to refer to different things? Can they be used interchangeably? Today, I want to answer these questions, talk about how these words are used, and summarize the most popular and authoritative usage guides’ opinions on them.
After reading this post, you will have solid understanding of the flier vs. flyer debate and a clear path forward.
Flyer as noun:
The word flyer is used as a noun to describe a person or thing that flies, especially in a particular way.
She is a frequent flyer.
Flyer is also used to describe a small handbill advertising an event or product.
She was distributing flyers of her new cake shop.
Use of flier:
Flier is the older spellings of the word and for many years, the The AP Stylebook held that flier was the preferred choice to refer to both pilots and handbills.
American Airlines introduced the first of what we now know as frequent flier programs in May 1981, with 283,000 members. [USA Today]
According to the flyer—which depicts a raised, clenched fist holding a pencil, a play on the movement’s symbol—Duggan plans to bring in guest speakers. [Wall Street Journal]
The infrequent flier about to get on the plane at Reno-Tahoe International Airport had sores all over him. [Los Angeles Times]
“Join us as we revisit a familiar and beloved neighborhood of the Christmas Tour,” a flyer for the event says. [Boston Globe]
Use of flyer:
Flyer are the new spellings of the word that are used globally and are the preferred choice to be given to both pilots and handbills.
Something of his alert oversight probably came from his experience as a flyer. [Guardian (U.K.)]
Once inside a store, look for items that are on the outside cover of the weekly specials flyer. [Globe and Mail (Canada)]
Elected just 18 months ago, already a high-flyer. [Telegraph]
They must also stop distributing or displaying any literature, flyers or signage containing any unregistered business name. [Sydney Morning Herald]
Flier or flyer:
As both the spellings are still in use throughout the world. The most important thing for you to consider in your writing is consistency. Be sure to your writing stays consistent and don’t vary word choice throughout your text.