Posted by: atowhee | October 21, 2015

COLLECTIVELY SPEAKING

We all know of the “murder of crows”  and “exaltation of larks.”  Flock is accurate but so general.  There are many fine avian collective nouns flying about in English.

Here are some of my favorites, and suggestions for improvement:

Boblink: chain [get it?  pun on link…hey, I didn’t make this up]
Coot: cover [especially apt when coots are covering the surface of your local sewer ponds in winter]
Cormorant: gulp  [nothing fishy about this one]
Duck: raft, plump, paddling
Dunlin:  fling [so accurate when they are seen in the air]
Eagle: convocation [gives them way too much dignity, a lurk, attack or scavenge might be better]
Jackdaws: clattering [this city-dwelling Euro-corvid is best seen in groups clattering about the rooftops of old town or across Gothic cathedrals]
Mallard: flush, sord, puddling
Ravens: unkindness [Totally misses their co-operative intelligence; I would suggest alliance, conspiracy, clan.   This collective comes from the Ravens’ alacrity for arriving at medieval battlefields while the bodies were still warm going straight for the soft stuff on the sword-butchered bodies.  They even would follow chain-mailed armies from castle wall to the battlefield, then await the fest that would inevitably follow.] Turkeys: gang

 

Here are three of the many websites that have pulled together some of the English collective nouns for birds and other creatures:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_terms_of_venery,_by_animal

http://www.hintsandthings.co.uk/kennel/collectives.htm

http://www.collectivenouns.biz/list-of-collective-nouns/collective-nouns-animals/?

Home sapiens:  scourge?  plague?  surfeit?  over-abundance?  cancer?  Can we hope to become a blessing or salvation?

 


Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Pete's Favourite Things and commented:
    Really like this blog. Who would have thought of ‘an unkindness of Ravens’


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