Prompted by this question: Who is "He that flies" in Lord of the Rings?

The simple answer from comments

"He who flies" is a way of describing someone who is fleeing a battle. It doesn't refer to a particular character.

There's been a growing debate that this should be closed and/or migrated to English Language & Learners (ELL.SE) or English.SE.

This question would be better on the English Language Learners Stackexchange, since it’s purely about the meaning of an English sentence, not any SF or fantasy content.

while some have made the case it should remain

But [the OP] didn't know that at the time he posted the question. For all he knew, the phrase might refer to some "magically empowered aerial reconnaissance asset" rather than just a figure of speech regarding cowards and their exaggerations.

Should we leave it alone as-is, or close it as being about an arcane English phrase?

  • 1
    Those comments are a red herring. Asking about the meaning of a phrase in a work of SF/F is on-topic whether or not the answer specifically involves SF/F content. See the dupe.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 14:58
  • I wasn't sure if that one still applied here. Thanks for clarifying
    – Machavity
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


The debate regarding these "language questions" has been growing over the past few months. They have usually come from new users whose first language isn't English, it's hardly a surprise when they're not 100% sure on all the details of the language and as such come up with, what look like to some, as odd questions. However, the question in their minds and perhaps those also unfamiliar with the language is probably quite reasonable. As far as they know it could be, in this case, referring to a specific character.

The OP themselves, being unfamiliar with the language, also wouldn't know this is a language question until they got their answer. As the work is on topic I see no reason why asking about the meaning of a phrase in the work should be off topic.

Therefore, they don't need closing, leave them be, if you really wish you can always downvote it. However, as you've seen in this case the question actually hit the HNQ so it must be useful to some.

Lastly, it's worth noting that various stacks have overlap in what is on topic in them, this just appears to have overlap with ELL and/or ELU. But because there is overlap doesn't mean it is then off topic where it was asked.

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