Friday, October 08, 2010

What do you call a group of ...?

Many of these terms belong to 15th-century lists of 'proper terms', notably that in the Book of St Albans attributed to Dame Juliana Barnes (1486). Many of these are fanciful or humorous terms which probably never had any real currency, but have been taken up by antiquarian writers, notably Joseph Strutt in Sports and Pastimes of England (1801).

People
a blush of boys
a drunkship of cobblers
a hastiness of cooks
a stalk of foresters
an observance of hermits
a bevy of ladies
a faith of merchants
a superfluity of nuns
a malapertness (= impertinence) of pedlars
a pity of prisoners
a glozing (= fawning) of taverners

Animals
a shrewdness of apes
a chattering or clattering of choughs
a rag or rake of colts
a covert of coots
a cowardice of curs
a trip of dotterel
a flight or dole or piteousness of doves
a raft or bunch or paddling of ducks on water
a fling of dunlins
a gang of elk
a charm or chirm of finches
a pack or covey of grouse
a cast of hawks
a siege of herons
a desert of lapwing
an exaltation or a bevy of larks
a tiding of magpies
a sord or suit of mallard
a richesse of martens
a barren of mules
a watch of nightingales
a covey of partridges
a muster of peacocks
a head or nye of pheasants
a kit of pigeons flying together
a stand or wing or congregation of plovers
a rush or flight of pochards
a covey of ptarmigan
a bevy or drift of quail
a string of racehorses
an unkindness of ravens
a bevy of roes
a parliament or building of rooks
a hill of ruffs
a dopping of sheldrake
a wisp or walk of snipe
a host of sparrows
a murmuration of starlings
a flight of swallows
a game of swans; a wedge of swans in the air
a spring of teal
a bunch or knob or raft of waterfowl
a company or trip of wigeon
a destruction of wild cats
a bunch or trip or plump or knob (less than 30) of wildfowl
a drift of wild pigs
a fall of woodcock

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