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Collective Nouns

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collective nouns for animals

I find the English language fascinating! If you’ve read many of my hubs and articles, you probably already know this. One of my favorite aspects of the English language is the use of collective nouns. We English speakers aren’t happy with simply lumping creatures of the same species into a “group.” No, we like to give the particular group of critters a special name. From an “army of ants” to a “zeal of zebras,” the English language is full of interesting collective nouns. Some collective nouns, of course, are familiar to just about everyone, like “herd,” for example. You know a group of horses is referred to as a herd, but did you know that a stallion’s group of mares is called a “harem”? Some collective nouns in the English language are really interesting and unique!

Everyone knows that the collective noun for horses is "herd."

Everyone knows that the collective noun for horses is "herd."

What is a collective noun?

Before we go any further, what is a collective noun? A collective noun is a word that’s used to describe a group of things. Collective nouns can be used to define concepts, people, items, emotions, birds, mammals, fish, insects, amphibians, and more. Personally, I find the collective nouns that define groups of like creatures the most interesting. And by “creatures,” I’m talking about any species that’s included in the kingdom Animalia.

I first really became interested in collective nouns when I was teaching at our local high school. I and some other teachers who were fascinated with the English language used to email each other with new collective nouns we’d discovered. I kept a running list of collective nouns for years, and I’ve included them below. I know there are more out there!

a grist of bees

a grist of bees

Insects:

Army of ants

Colony of lice

Grist of bees

Scourge of mosquitoes

Constituency of caterpillars

Swarm of flies

Cluster of dragonflies

Rabble of butterflies

Cloud of gnats

Intrusion of roaches

Plague of locusts

The collective noun for frogs is "knot."

The collective noun for frogs is "knot."

Amphibians:

Knot of frogs

Maelstrom of salamanders

A group of lizards is a "lounge."

A group of lizards is a "lounge."

Reptiles:

Float of crocodiles

Lounge of lizards

Congregation of alligators

Bale of turtles

Quiver of cobras

Bank of Komodo dragons

Nest of snakes

Pit of vipers

Rhumba of rattlesnakes

Is this a school of fish or a hover of trout?

Is this a school of fish or a hover of trout?

Fish:

School of fish

Hover of trout

Shiver of sharks

Pipe of eels

Run of salmon

Troop of dogfish

Glint of goldfish

Shoal of herring

A group of pelicans is a "gulp."

A group of pelicans is a "gulp."

a "tower" of giraffes

a "tower" of giraffes

a "parade" of elephants

a "parade" of elephants

Birds:

Covey of quail

Conspiracy of ravens

Gaggle of geese

Skein of flying geese

Chattering of chicks

Wake of buzzards

Durante of toucans

Raft of ducks

Gulp of cormorants

Scold of bluejays

Murder of crows

Aerie of eagles

Parliament of owls

Kit of pigeons

Suit of mallards

Muster of peacocks

Exaltation of larks

Gatling of woodpeckers

Nide of pheasants

Drumming of grouse

wreck of seagulls

murmuration of starlings

building of rooks

Sedge of cranes

Waddle of penguins

Loft of pigeons

Pandemonium of parrots

Scoop of pelicans

Wisp of snipe

Radiance of cardinals

Fall of woodcocks

Game of swans

Kettle of hawks

Stand of flamingoes

Dule of doves

Charm of finches

Watch of nightingales

Mammals:

Herd of horses

Harem of mares

Pride of lions

Marmalade of ponies

Parade of elephants

Sleuth of bears

Sneak of weasels

Down of rabbits

Bloat of hippopotamuses

Colony of bats

Span of mules

Blessing of Narwhal

Scurry of squirrels

Husk of hares

Plot of lemurs

Cluster of antelope

Passel of opossums

Puddle of platypuses

Pack of wolves

Shrewdness of apes

Crash of seals

Gang of elk

Pack of rats

Coffle of donkeys

Cackle of hyenas

Coalition of cheetahs

Gang of meerkats

Mob of kangaroos

Troop of bison

Pod of whales, dolphins, porpoises

Saladbowl of hamsters

Band of gorillas

Ambush of tigers

Tower of giraffes

Tribe of goats

Fold of sheep

Piddle of puppies

Cartload of chimps

Sounder of wild boar

Business of ferrets

Labor of moles

Lodge of beavers

Skulk of foxes

Congress of baboons

Aarmory of aardvarks

Mischief of mice

Clowder of cats

Troop of monkeys

Cete of badgers

Pot of water buffalo

Leap of leopards

Crash of rhinoceroses

Prickle of hedgehogs

Population of koalas

Measure of tapirs

Romp of otter

Band of coyotes

Wisdom of wombats

Clan of hyenas

Gaze of raccoons

Buffoonery of orangutans

Flock of camels

Drove of cattle

Rangale of deer

The collective noun for starfish is "group."

The collective noun for starfish is "group."

Other:

Weyr of dragons

Clew of worms

Smack of jellyfish

Audience of squid

Blessing of unicorns

Group of starfish

Cast of crabs

Clutter of spiders

Bed of clams

Hive of oysters

Hood of snails

Comments

Vanessa on October 27, 2012:

It's a 'constillation of starfish'.

Donna Cosmato from USA on December 01, 2011:

Excellent job on putting this together and what a valuable resource for writers! I must admit I would probably never have paired "rabble" with butterflies but what do I know!

While I won't mind running into the Aarmory of aardvarks as I've always wanted to see one of those critters up close, I'm planning to avoid the leap of leopards in every possible way :)

Seriously, absolutely wonderful and a must bookmark and share read...so I did!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 01, 2011:

Fascinating collection, Holle. Some of these collective nouns appear to be very descriptive, e.g., durante of toucans (named for Jimmuy Durante of the large nose, perhaps)? and buffoonery of orangs (they are pretty funny).

Not to forget: congress of baboons modeled after the U.S. version no doubt. Thanks for the amusement.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Janie, I very much appreciate your comment!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Random, glad you liked it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Thanks, Froggie!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Ava, I figured as writers, a couple of these might be useful! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Same here, Mary! But I can always blame it on my meds. lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

for real, Robin! Who the heck came up with that one??

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2011:

Many thanks, Millionaire!

Mary Krenz from Florida's Space Coast on December 01, 2011:

very interesting, I do love to read your hubs!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 30, 2011:

Great resource!

Greg Boudonck from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong on November 30, 2011:

Great hub!!!!!!!!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 30, 2011:

I can't wait to impress my friends with some of these. That's assuming I'll remember a couple. I'll probably forget!

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on November 30, 2011:

Wow! That is so fun. I would get the strangest looks if I said, "Come look at the saladbowl of hamsters!" What a great list, thanks!

Shasta Matova from USA on November 30, 2011:

Oh my goodness what a big list. I hadn't heard of many of them. Great pics too! Voted up.