Collective Nouns

What do you call a pair of crows? Answer – attempted murder.

This type of joke is from a genre called highbrow humour. Why… because you have to have some specific knowledge before you can understand the joke. In this attempted murder case (pun intended) you have to know that the collective noun for three or more crows is a murder. Ah, now the joke makes sense… and leads us nicely into what this post is actually about i.e. collective nouns.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many collective nouns there are in the English language. For example, we have a murder of crows (you knew that!), a belt of asteroids, a cackle of hyenas, a flight of stairs, a sentence of judges, an impatience of wives and a den of thieves. These ones are fairly normal and, I’d guess, fairly widely known. If you Google ‘collective nouns’ you’ll find a wealth of words describing nearly every group imaginable. Even with the abundance of official collective nouns, there are still a lot of groups which have yet to be allocated their own special word.

Here are a few suggestions which could fill the some of the gaps:

  • A blaze of firemen
  • A smothering of Social Workers
  • A gathering of combine harvesters
  • A shoal of nudists
  • A wunch of bankers
  • A collection of philatelists
  • A camp of bell-ringers
  • A heard of listeners
  • A number of mathematicians
  • A drift of castaways
  • A pouch of Chewbaccas
Any more for any more? For example, what is the above group of collective nouns called?
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About Ken Magee

Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this planet. My one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact. My name is Ken Magee and I tell people I write contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. My books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. I pretend that they’re works of fiction, because I’m afraid of the powerful people behind the conspiracies… I’m hoping a ‘fiction’ writer will slip under their radar. Up until the point when I discovered about the frightening plot which deliberately caused the recent global financial meltdown, I’d led a fairly normal life. I’d worked for many years in the computer industry in roles ranging from programming through to sales. In the middle of it all, I’d served in the Naval Reserve… which was hard work, but fun. Then in 2010, I decided to make time to finish Dark Tidings, the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now (the book, not life). Dark Tidings is book one of the series. The Black Conspiracy and A Darker Shade of Black complete the ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’ trilogy.

4 thoughts on “Collective Nouns

  1. Lori Ellis

    We had a game at work one day to identify the group names for a list of animals. I had a great time finding the funniest wrong answer possible. There was a long list, but the ones I remember right now are a box of turtles, a plane of snakes, and a pantsful of ants.


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