Collective Nouns – Part Two

Parliament of Owls
See also part one.

Since the practice of inventing names for groups of animals was started by educated English hunting gentlemen in the fifteenth century, the English language has been blessed with a growing collection of collective nouns. Any animal you can think of probably has a word for a group of them, and if it doesn’t then you’re allowed to invent one. If you want, you can invent a new one even if there already is one. Say you’re not satisfied with a pride of lions, then you can make up your own. Call them a lounge of lions when they’re lying around, for instance.

The practice of inventing collective nouns has evolved to the point where it has become a sport for some. Moving beyond simple squadrons of swans, people went on to prattles of parrots and even exaltations of larks. The collective nouns tend to become grander, or at least more clever.

As for non-avian animals, the nouns are equally descriptive. There is a skulk of foxes and a rumpus of baboons. One might watch a slither of snakes go by. Digging in the garden might turn up a wriggle of worms. The animals don’t even have to be real. A herd of unicorns, should they come in herds, would be called a blessing of unicorns. And they don’t have to be animals either. How appropriate it is to call a stand of willows a bend of willows.

There are collective nouns for humans too. In honor of gaggle for geese, someone came up with a giggle of girls. As everyone knows, once you have any number of them you have a mess of children. On the promenade you’ll see an amble of walkers, while hanging around doorways is a billow of smokers. On street corners there will often be a loiter of louts. At times you might have to struggle through a thicket of idiots. The police might round up a fidget of suspects. To say nothing of the nullity of nihilists.

Groups of people can easily be lumped together by profession. There is an order of waiters or, depending on the restaurant, an absence of waiters. Any more than one seems like a lot of car dealers. It’s a dose of doctors and a deck of sailors. Marbled hallways often house a huddle of lawyers, which can quickly become a quarrel of lawyers. While rarely seen in the wild, a convention can pool a flood of plumbers.

But what about bloggers? Should it be an exhibition of bloggers? A brazen of bloggers? A bore?

Inventing collective nouns is easy and fun. Give it a try.


About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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3 Responses to Collective Nouns – Part Two

  1. mixedupmeme says:

    You already took all the good ones. 🙁
    I liked them all!!!

    Only thing I can think of is a spoof of spaghetti monsters.

  2. emmylgant says:

    Ooh! I had fun with this!

  3. arjaybe says:

    I’m glad you did because so did I, but didn’t it make you want to add some?-)


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