Does anyone else love collective nouns?

By Legal Eagle

Inspired by DEM’s Cyril-the-psychopathic-Swansea-swan post, I have been looking at the collective nouns for various kinds of animals and birds.

  • Some favourites since childhood: a kindle of kittens, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, a bask of crocodiles, an unkindness of ravens.
  • Some new ones I’ve seen today: a musket of lyrebirds, an exaltation of larks, a dumb of pigeons, a business of ferrets, a glaring of cats, a leap of leopards, a blessing of narwhals, a sneak of weasels.

I love the judgmental and somewhat lyrical nature of these collective nouns. Crows and ravens are associated with carrion, so they are murderous or unkind. Owls are wise so they form a parliament (perhaps wiser than the real Parliament?). Larks sing sweetly and look pretty so they are an exaltation…pigeons are quite another matter (flying rodents) and the way their heads bob when they walk is just so…dumb!

What are your favourite collective nouns? Can you think of any which you would like to institute?

4 Comments

  1. Posted June 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I was told in my early days in the public service that auditors were the people who came around after the battle was over and shoot the wounded.

    There may have been some bitterness there.

    So, an angst of auditors.

  2. os
    Posted June 10, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    A sodomy of shepherds.

  3. William
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Years late, but never mind… jam of tarts, yes…but also a novel of Trollopes, a chapter of prose, a fanfare of strumpets…

  4. Dominic Hatton
    Posted May 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Also years late:
    A Comedy of Kookaburras

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