09 November, 2012

Collective Nouns

A quick little post for the weekend... I've just got myeslf a new copy of the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook. While reading one of the great mini-essays it contains, I got thinking about collective nouns. The writer of this essay suggested that the collective name for literary agents should be a 'clause'.



I've always had a bit of a fascination with collective nouns. They delight me rather more than they should. Some of my favourites that spring to mind, include:
  • a kindle of kittens
  • a charm of goldfinch
  • a murder of crows (or ravens?)
  • a parliament of owls
  • a knot of toads
 Of course I could now look up a list of all sorts of other entertaining collective nouns for you, but we can all use google, so instead I'd like to know:
a) do you have any collective nouns you love?
b) can we make up some of our own?

For example, what should a group of writers be called? A chapter of writers? Perhaps that sounds a bit too like a religious sect. How about a curiosity of writers?

If you have/had a non-writing day job, what do you think you (and your colleagues) should be called? An explosion of electricians? A database of software developers? A weariness of stay-at-home-mums-with-toddlers?

My degree was a mixture of biology and anthopology. I'm going to plump for... hmmmm... a puddle of biologists and a nosiness of anthropologists. But perhaps you can do better with your profession?

16 comments:

  1. I love collective nouns! :) (Although I wouldn't have been able to say that before I read this post, to my shame..I am now more educated!)

    My two pence;
    I am part of a panic of social workers... or perhaps a brood of social workers, or maybe even a restraint of social workers - I think that's the keeper!

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    1. A restraint of social workers! I love it. (But I also love a panic of social workers - though that suggests the type of sheep we come across on the road all the time who run around randomly all over the place. I'm sure you're more organised than that. I think of social workers as being more like rhinoceroses/rhinoceri(?))

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  2. I initially read your post as a "kuddle of kittens" which I thought was great. Its only as I write this comment though that it occurs to me that cuddle is spelt with a C - in my head it worked fine.

    I think an array of software engineers, or an int of software engineers might be geeky enough to warrant the term, but I'm sure Joe will disagree...

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    1. I don't even know what an int is, so it sounds geeky enough to me. I was thinking a circuit of electonic engineers?

      A cuddle of kittens would be kind of cute.

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    2. Ooooh, Paul's just suggested a cluster of software developers. Ace!

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  3. I've come across a website dedicated to this, it's quite fun. I think a clause sounds more like it should be contracts. Or Santas!
    A line of writers and a block of writers are my favourites. They seem to capture the essence!

    As for me a palette works quite well, but I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that a faff of designers is the only one! Though I think if there were more than one of me we would most likely be a faff of Richs (not sure what to do with the plural of my name there!).

    But my favourite by far (and thank you for this, I wasn't aware I had favourite collective nouns until now!) is a Wunch of Bankers. Genius.

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    1. A wunch? That is amazing.

      A block of writers. Hmmmm. Painfully true sometimes. Everybody loves collective nouns once they start! I wonder what a collection of collective nouns is?

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  4. I love ' a parliament of rooks' given their cunning and ability to scavenge.

    New collective nouns? How about a corruption of politicians, a reticence of literary agents, a caution of editors, an optimism of marketeers and an ambition of writers?

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  5. Is a 'bellyful of laughs' a collective noun? And a collection of collective nouns is obviously a 'recursion of collective nouns' (ask Paul).

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    1. It can be a collective noun for our purposes. I do not need Paul to explain that to me! It's perfect!

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    2. I believe that the popular-culture reference which becomes obligatory at the mention of anything recursive is "Inception".

      So if you're cool then you might have an "Inception of collective nouns" instead.

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  6. How about a study of writers?

    PS Since I know you and I both own a Toyota Yaris should they be called a pair of Yari?

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    1. A study of writers sounds quite solemn.

      If we find some more friends we could have a pootling of Yari!

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  7. Like it! Driving a Yaris definitely feels like pootling!

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  8. One of my most recent projects at college has been based around collective nouns!

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    1. Just saw the pictures on your blog. They look fab!

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