Posted in Grammar, Language

A Murder of Crows, and other collective nouns for animal groups

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Collective nouns are names used to represent a group of  people, animals, or things.

All animals collect into groups at some point in their lives. Be it for the social interaction, mating season, or herd immunity (groups of animals are harder to attack than solitary ones wandering by themselves).

These names reflect our love of linguistics, and can be traced back to the fifteenth century when they were first published in The Book of St. Albans (1486), in three parts on hawking, hunting, and heraldry.

  • A murder of crows
  • A congress of baboons
  • A tower of giraffes
  • A parliament of owls
  • A rafter of turkeys
  • A shrewdness of apes
  • A zeal of zebras
  • A crash of hippopotami
  • A congregation of alligators
  • A pride of lions
  • An unkindness of ravens
  • A blessing of unicorns
  • A clowder of cats
  • A flamboyance of flamingoes
  • A conspiracy of lemurs
  • A volt of vultures
  • An implausibility of gnus
  • A celebration of polar bears
  • A mob of meerkats
  • A kaleidoscope of butterflies
  • A knot of frogs
  • A prickle of porcupines
  • A smack of jellyfish
  • A romp of otters
  • A sleuth of bears
  • An ostentation of peacocks (Do you think this is where the word ‘ostentatious’ comes from?)
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A flamboyance of flamingoes at the China Lights in New Orleans City Park 
China Lights photo ©2016 Edward Branley www.nolahistoryguy.com 


Sources:
Crow comic courtesy of offthemark.com – ©Mark Parisi- March 29, 2016
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/collectives.htm
Unusual names for animal groups
Who decides on the right collective noun for something?

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