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Collective nouns

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Izzardesque
210631.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:42 am Reply with quote

Did you know that the collective noun for bears is a sloth? Can you think of any other collective nouns that are another animal??

Also, I couldn't find the collective noun for a sloth....

Or octopus for that matter, although I did see a tentative suggestion of a jury of octopuses.

Any help appreciated.

(apologies if there are other threads about this but I'm about to leave work and haven't got time to search!)

 
jaygeemack
210632.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:05 am Reply with quote

My favourite collective noun is an unkindness of ravens.

 
mckeonj
210635.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:23 am Reply with quote

I don't believe any of these collective nouns are genuine; with the possible exception of good old words like 'herd', 'flock', and 'school'.
Many Collective Nouns are clever and amusing, hence suspect.
I do, however, like the obvious forgeries, like 'a flourish of strumpets (whores)' and the recent 'flange of gorillas'.

 
djgordy
210639.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:30 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:

Many Collective Nouns are clever and amusing, hence suspect.
I do, however, like the obvious forgeries, like 'a flourish of strumpets (whores)' and the recent 'flange of gorillas'.


I'm intelligent and amusing but I'm not suspect.....

It is a "flange" of baboons, not of gorillas.

As to them being "forgeries", I suspect tht what you mean is they are not "traditional" or long standing. All words are "forgeries" to begin with. Someone had to be the person who invented the word "flock" for a group of sheep; he was probably accused of just making up nonsense words.

 
Neotenic
210660.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:08 am Reply with quote

I suppose if anyone is going to mention a wunch of bankers, it had better be me.

 
JumpingJack
210677.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:43 am Reply with quote

I did quite a lot of research on colllective nouns for the C series and I rather agree with mckeonj about the 'genuineness' of the vast majority of them.

I doubt anyone has EVER remarked 'Oh look! A parliament of owls!' except as a joke.

On the other hand, djgordy makes a very good point too. All new words have to start somewhere. Which is really what I was getting at on the other thread about 'why do so many words have several different meanings?'

On the whole, we should be grateful to the few people who bother to think up new words (or at least new applications for existent words). Jolly decent of them - and a lot harder than it looks to get them to stick.

A 'flange' of baboons is one of the proudest moments of my career, because it got into Ask Oxford - the online version of the OED. (Don't know if it's still there, but it certainly is used in the field by some zoologists).

 
JumpingJack
210678.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:46 am Reply with quote

The OED has this to say in the entry on Collective Nouns:

These old names for companies of men and animals are however very fantastical and far-fetched, as may be seen in the first three works quoted.
THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 1933

 
AlmondFacialBar
210681.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:49 am Reply with quote

my favourite has got to be a mob of kangaroos...

and, btw, the flange of baboons is still there:

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/collective/b/?view=uk

v. cool!

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
mckeonj
210696.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:23 am Reply with quote

I'm going to put Flange into the F series right now.

 
AlmondFacialBar
210698.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:24 am Reply with quote

nice one! :-D

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
I am not a number
210707.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:07 am Reply with quote

Didn't the "Flange" of Gorillas come from the Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch?

 
AlmondFacialBar
210709.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:10 am Reply with quote

of baboons, and yes.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
jaygeemack
210732.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 7:22 am Reply with quote

When I was at school many moons ago, we had a reference book called A First Aid in English, which listed all these strange collective nouns, so they must be correct!

 
djgordy
210800.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:33 am Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:


On the other hand, djgordy makes a very good point too.


There's a first time for everything I suppose.

Actually, some of these collective nouns go back quite a long way. Many may well have been playful, poetic inventions but that just goes to show that people in the past were just as keen to play games with the language as we are today. There is an interesting article on the origins of collective nouns here:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/collectives.htm

Arguably we could just have one word for any group of animals gathered together in number greater than 2. Why not just have "herd"? A herd of cattle, a herd of sheep, a herd of birds, a herd of fish, a herd of bees etc.

 
smiley_face
210815.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:51 am Reply with quote

I am not a number wrote:
Didn't the "Flange" of Gorillas come from the Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch?

Yer. Though, it's a whoop of gorillas and a flange of baboons.

You can see the sketch here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d40S0GgfDtw

 

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