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Collective nouns

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210821.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:59 am Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
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.

How boring!

210840.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:28 am Reply with quote

to clarify...

Flock is applied to a congregation of animals of one kind, especially sheep or goats herded by people, and to any congregation of wild or domesticated birds, especially when on the ground. It is also applicable to people who form the membership of a church or to people under someone's care or supervision.

Herd is used of a number of animals, especially cattle, herded by people; or of wild animals such as antelope, elephants, and zebras; or of whales and seals. Applied to people, it is used disparagingly of a crowd or of the masses and suggests the gregarious aspect of crowd psychology.

Drove is used of a herd or flock, as of cattle or geese, that is being moved or driven from one place to another; less often it refers to a crowd of people in movement.

Pack is applicable to any body of animals, especially wolves, or of birds, especially grouse, and to a body of hounds trained to hunt as a unit. It also refers disparagingly to a band or group of persons. Gang refers to a herd, especially of buffalo or elk; to a pack of wolves or wild dogs; or to various associations of persons, especially when engaged in violent or criminal pursuits.

Brood is applicable to offspring that are still under the care of a mother, especially the offspring of domestic or game birds or, less formally, of people.

The following zoological terms are used as indicated:

bevy, a company of roe deer, larks, or quail;
cast, the number of hawks or falcons cast off at one time, usually a pair;
cete, a company of badgers;
covert, a flock of coots;
covey, a family of grouse, partridges, or other game birds;
drift, a drove or herd, especially of hogs;
exaltation, a flight of larks;
fall, a family of woodcock in flight;
flight, a flock of birds in flight;
gaggle, a flock of geese;
gam, a school of whales, or a social congregation of whalers, especially at sea;
kennel, a number of hounds or dogs housed in one place or under the same ownership;
kindle, a brood or litter, especially of kittens;
litter, the total number of offspring produced at a single birth by a multiparous mammal;
murder, a flock of crows;
muster, a flock of peacocks;
nide, a brood of pheasants;
pod, a small herd of seals or whales;
pride, a company of lions;
rout, a company of people or animals in movement, especially knights or wolves;
school, a congregation of fish, or aquatic mammals such as dolphins or porpoises;
shrewdness, a company of apes;
skein, a flight of wildfowl, especially geese;
skulk, a congregation of vermin, especially foxes, or of thieves;
sloth, a company of bears;
sord, a flight of mallards;
sounder, a herd of wild boar;
stable, a number of horses housed in one place or under the same ownership;
swarm, a colony of insects, such as ants, bees, or wasps, especially when migrating to a new nest or hive;
troop, a number of animals, birds, or people, especially when on the move;
warren, the inhabitants, such as rabbits, of a warren;
watch, a flock of nightingales;
wisp, a flock of birds, especially of snipe.


210868.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:02 am Reply with quote

You missed out flange!


210968.  Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:38 pm Reply with quote

Still doesn't help with octopuses...

211030.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:58 am Reply with quote

*Was* flange definitely mentioned in the B series? Would that not be some sort of nepotism (if you get my drift), or was JJ's part in the etymology of the word referred to?


211052.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:43 am Reply with quote

Series B Episode 7

[presses buzzer, which plays the generic Nokia ringtone]
Congress of baboons!

Very good. But there is a quite interesting fact about a new word that is beginning to replace "congress", and it has a very odd history, this word. It comes from a comedy sketch on BBC television, in a series called "Not the Nine O'Clock News" . . . there was a sketch called "Gerald the Gorilla"--

Oh, yeah.

--in which Rowan Atkinson played--

"Wild? I was furious!"

--in which he makes mention . . . "Wild? I was furious!" Exactly. "The production of that album!" . . . But, erm . . . there's a . . . there's a point where he talks about a group, or "flange, as we call them," of . . . of gorillas. And this was just made up by Richard Curtis or whoever wrote the sketch--that particular sketch--but it's now on the 'net. And there is . . . I can quote you, here, from a book called "Sex and Friendship in Baboons" by Barbara B. Smuts; this is a review--

[waving finger at Stephen] He's read every book in the world!

This is a review on, er, and it's a serious academic study, and it says, "In this marvellous book, Smuts draws from years of painstaking field research in which she followed around a flange of chacma baboons in the Mateti Game Reserve in Zimbabwe." And that . . . A word has migrated from a comedy sketch into the internet, and is now being used by academics as the official word!

stolen from

But no mention of JJ .. unles JJ is Richard Curtis ;) (if indeed RC was the author of said sketch!)


all ellipses and m-dashes restored .. and a from link added ... sorry MinervaMoon

Last edited by markvent on Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:31 am; edited 3 times in total

211064.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:08 am Reply with quote

Izzardesque wrote:
Still doesn't help with octopuses...

Although it is often supposed that octopi is the 'correct' plural of octopus, and it has been in use for longer than the usual Anglicized plural octopuses, it in fact originates as an error. Octopus is not a simple Latin word of the second declension, but a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, and its 'correct' plural would logically be octopodes.

and that as they say ... is a fact :D


211181.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:57 am Reply with quote

markvent wrote:
Series B Episode 7

You've murdered my ellipses, sir. And my m-dashes! Woe.

211192.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:17 am Reply with quote

MinervaMoon wrote:
markvent wrote:
Series B Episode 7

You've murdered my ellipses, sir. And my m-dashes! Woe.

I apologise ... deeply and unreservedly ...

BTW ... I'm a huge fan of the site :D as you can tell by my whole hearted stealing of your content ...

once again my sincerest apologies ...


211202.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:27 am Reply with quote

markvent wrote:
BTW ... I'm a huge fan of the site :D as you can tell by my whole hearted stealing of your content ...

Truly, you've actually effectively demonstrated exactly why the site is there: To quote from QI in order to prove a point, without having to watch though an episode, find, and type out the right bits oneself. :)

211207.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:32 am Reply with quote

Suggested new collective noun:

A conference of geeks.

211217.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:20 am Reply with quote

My pennyworth:
A sussuration of gossips

211221.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:24 am Reply with quote

A shriek of Daily Mail readers?

211232.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:50 am Reply with quote

a giggle of schoolgirls ?

a murmur of schoolboys ?

a qwerty of keyboards ?


211234.  Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:51 am Reply with quote

A pedantry of QIers?


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