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  #1  
Old 03-24-2006, 09:40 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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A murder of crows, and other animal group names

A murder of crows, a sleuth of bears, a dule of doves, a college of cardinals... uh, no, forget that last one.

How many of these cutsey, semi-clever animal group names (and there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of them) have been around for more than, say, 20 years? And how many have just been written recently by lovers of the English language with too much time on their hands?
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Old 03-24-2006, 09:50 PM
phouka phouka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
A murder of crows, a sleuth of bears, a dule of doves, a college of cardinals... uh, no, forget that last one.

How many of these cutsey, semi-clever animal group names (and there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of them) have been around for more than, say, 20 years? And how many have just been written recently by lovers of the English language with too much time on their hands?
My understanding is that coming up with collective nouns was very popular in the Victorian age. Some of my favorites:

- an exhultation of larks
- an absence of waiters
- a ballet of swans
- a body of pathologists

One I came up with myself while I was writing a horror story: a shamble of zombies.
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Old 03-24-2006, 09:56 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Personally, my favorites are a Parliament of Owls and a Grace of Unicorns. The latter I actually first encountered in actual use (i.e., not just in a list of animal collective nouns like this one): The 3rd Edition D&D Monster's Manual entry for unicorns says that they might be encountered solitary, in pairs, or in a grace (5-7).
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Old 03-24-2006, 10:32 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
A murder of crows, a sleuth of bears, a dule of doves, a college of cardinals... uh, no, forget that last one.

How many of these cutsey, semi-clever animal group names (and there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of them) have been around for more than, say, 20 years? And how many have just been written recently by lovers of the English language with too much time on their hands?
Most of them have been around for far more than 20 years (and there are more than a thousand). Hundreds date back more than 500 years, being terms used in venery (hunting). James Lipton compiled many of these from fifteenth century sources (Books of Venery) in his classic work, An Exaltation of Larks. Many others were coined in Victorian times, when it became something of a parlor game to do so.
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Old 03-24-2006, 10:42 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phouka
My understanding is that coming up with collective nouns was very popular in the Victorian age.

It's a great car game, along with Geography, I'm going to X, etc.
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Old 03-24-2006, 11:04 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Writer James Thurber suggested "A Flare of Strumpets."
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Old 03-24-2006, 11:47 PM
brianmelendez brianmelendez is offline
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Animal groups were named, often whimsically, in the medieval English "venereal game" played among the hunting classes, which resulted in "terms of venery" or "venereal terms" -- collective nouns for animal groups. See generally James Lipton, An Exaltation of Larks (1991). For some lists of venereal collective nouns, see
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Old 03-25-2006, 12:08 AM
octothorpe octothorpe is offline
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I'm actually partial to a singularity of boars and a sounder of swine. And who'd a thunk you'd need three terms for geese; a skein of geese (in flight), a gaggle of geese (on land) and a plump of geese (on water)?

(although i think there is a bit of artistic licence to be found in wikipedia on that last one...)

#
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  #9  
Old 03-25-2006, 01:01 AM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Recent coinage:

A Wunch of Bankers



Think about it a little.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2006, 01:32 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Quote:
And who'd a thunk you'd need three terms for geese; a skein of geese (in flight), a gaggle of geese (on land) and a plump of geese (on water)?
Actually, there's four. Geese are a skein if they're flying freely and a wedge if they're flying in v-formation.
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  #11  
Old 03-25-2006, 04:31 AM
fifty-six fifty-six is offline
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A Teeming of Dopers


Cecil is that correct?
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Old 03-25-2006, 05:09 AM
Cat Jones Cat Jones is offline
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Quote:
How many of these cutsey, semi-clever animal group names (and there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of them) have been around for more than, say, 20 years?
They used to be found in the back of dictionaries - I remember looking them up as a child (sadly over 20 years ago!) but I think they have fallen out of favour to some extent - my 1990 Chambers Dictionary seems to have dumped them in favour of ISO paper sizes ! Some are old - a flock or birds, a herd of cows; some have fallen by the wayside as we have become more distanced fomr nature; and some have been coined as recent witticisms. Which is which ? Thinhk how common the noun being 'collected' is in current language and there you go.
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  #13  
Old 03-25-2006, 09:26 AM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianmelendez
venereal collective nouns
Since nobody else has: A ______ of herpes?
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  #14  
Old 03-25-2006, 09:32 AM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phouka
One I came up with myself while I was writing a horror story: a shamble of zombies.
I think 'A corps of skeletons' (walking variety) is in one of the Xanth books.
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  #15  
Old 03-25-2006, 10:37 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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They have been around for centuries. However, they were unused for centuries, too.

Lipton (who started the fad) went through ancient documents and listed all he could find, even if the term only appeared in that one document and was never used again. And even if widely used in it's time, nearly all the terms were out of use by the time Lipton started his research.

It's not wrong, exactly, but it's highly misleading. It as if I wrote "An arflebarfle of apples" and someone listed that as a collective name. Or if they said, "to occupy" is an obscenity.
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Old 03-25-2006, 10:46 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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About the only "fanciful" term that is still in general use is "a pride of lions." I believe that this actually post-dates some of the other terms such exaltation of larks.
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  #17  
Old 03-25-2006, 10:58 AM
Rick Rick is offline
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[Johnny Carson] A shaft of proctologists. [/Johnny Carson]
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  #18  
Old 03-25-2006, 10:59 AM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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A fletcher (arrow-maker) with a cubic meter of pre-cut feathers might well carry his stere of flights up a flight of stairs.

Some recent ones:

A formality of penguins.

A dairy of titmice.

An inning of bats.

An aroma of smelt.

A Timken of bears.

A bundle of faggots (from a New York magazine contest.)

A levee of dykes.

A caucus of elephants/donkeys.

A volley of artillery bugs.
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:21 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Well, there were a good number of such in the olden days. But most of them- especially the really cutesy ones, were made up for the "Game of Venery", and were never in general use. So, most of the cutesy animal ones were "just been written a hundred years ago by lovers of the English language with too much time on their hands." But if Lipton hadn't wrote that silly book, only a few would still be around, with maybe a dozen more lurking in Unabridged Dictionaries.
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  #20  
Old 03-25-2006, 12:00 PM
Cat Jones Cat Jones is offline
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A caress of breasts.
A clutch of penises.
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  #21  
Old 03-25-2006, 12:23 PM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Jones
A caress of breasts.
A clutch of penises.
Surely its:

An sue of penises

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  #22  
Old 03-25-2006, 02:46 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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A listing of programmers.
A puzzle of analysts.
A muddle of managers.
A pounding of data entry clerks.
An exasperation of users.
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  #23  
Old 03-25-2006, 05:34 PM
Civil Guy Civil Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathochist
Since nobody else has: A ______ of herpes?
I'm blanking on this one. A smooch of herpes?
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  #24  
Old 03-25-2006, 05:47 PM
JKilez JKilez is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjen
Recent coinage:

A Wunch of Bankers



Think about it a little.
I am thinking very little of it as I post.
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  #25  
Old 03-25-2006, 06:00 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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My grammar pals came up with "an agreement of grammarians."
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  #26  
Old 03-25-2006, 06:16 PM
Achren Achren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjen
Recent coinage:

A Wunch of Bankers



Think about it a little.
HA! I read this the "right" way first and was confused by being told to think about it, then I caught it out of the corner of my eye and realized how it should read.
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  #27  
Old 03-26-2006, 11:28 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Interesting! Thanks, everybody. How about:

A disputation of Dopers.
A cecil of Dopers.
A draggle of Dopers.
A hi-opal of Dopers.
An airplane-on-a-treadmill of Dopers.
A doration of Dopers (think about it!)
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  #28  
Old 03-26-2006, 03:46 PM
cj finn cj finn is offline
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I like to refer to groups of snowboarders plunked down on their butts fastening their bindings as a 'pod' or a 'raft'.
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  #29  
Old 03-26-2006, 04:30 PM
Bill Door Bill Door is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
Writer James Thurber suggested "A Flare of Strumpets."

I'd always described them as "a collection of pros."
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  #30  
Old 03-26-2006, 04:48 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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From this thread -- http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/....php?p=5845626:

an abomination of demons

an unobtanium of unicorns

a nubility of nymphs

an orgy of satyrs

a shitstorm of pegasi
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  #31  
Old 03-26-2006, 07:38 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is offline
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I prefer a "flourish of strumpets" myself...

A haggle of shopkeepers.

A jackpot of gamblers.
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  #32  
Old 03-26-2006, 11:31 PM
Civil Guy Civil Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartAleq
I prefer a "flourish of strumpets" myself...
For the record, one more variation (don't remember where I saw it):

An anthology of pros.
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