9 December 2008


A murmuration of starlings over Eastbourne, Sussex.
I thought this post would be fresh - something new - but I was here before in July 2005, thinking about collective nouns. Perhaps the collective noun for blogposts on the same theme could even be a "revisiting"... So where were we? Ah yes - collective nouns. I sometimes wonder who the hell coined the more outlandish of these terms. It is hard to think that country people of long ago might have looked up into an old wintry sycamore tree and upon spotting a group of crows labelled them a "murder". Somehow these varied and attractive group names have the whiff of nineteenth century wordplay...

"Oh I say Percival! It's raining like billyo outside! Let us retire to the drawing room and dream up some collective nouns for our feathered friends. Then we'll post them to my old college in Oxford!"
"Oh jolly dee Godfrey! What a wheeze! Haw! Haw! What about.... a murder of crows?"
"Spiffing Percy! Absolutely spiffing!"

Some collective nouns for mammals:-
A pod of dolphins
A skulk of foxes
A surfeit of skunks
A huddle of walruses
A coalition of cheetahs
An array of hedgehogs
An aurora of polar bears

A quiver of cobras
A rhumba of rattlesnakes

And back to the birds...
A charm of finches
An exaltation of larks
A pitying of turtle doves
A murmuration of starlings
A descent of woodpeckers
A mustering of storks
A bazaar of guillemots
A parliament of owls
A host of sparrows

Don't you think they are brilliant? Now, in the quest for interactivity dear readers, I am going to ask you to suggest new collective nouns for:-
a) Young people working in a call centre.
b) A group of bankers laid off because of the credit crunch.
c) Air travellers queueing in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport.
d) Prostitutes standing on a street corner.
e) Pub goers standing outside to smoke their cigarettes.


  1. Would "Hallows of 'hos" be inappropriate this time of year? I was thinking of the relics that hang around the circle in my small city...
    Damn, thought it would.

  2. A persistence of telemarketers
    A trough of ex-bankers
    A flight of air passengers
    A procurement of prostitutes
    A chain of smokers.

    There's mine.

  3. I don't think I could improve on Katherine's contribution. :)

  4. Ok, how about...
    a) an annoyance (of telesalesworkers);
    b) a lack of bankers;
    c) a fume of passengers;
    d) a freeze of prostitutes (it is December!); and
    e) a cough of smokers.

  5. Ha!Ha! Some great ideas there folks. How about

    a) an infestation of telesalesworkers
    b) a sniggering of bankers
    c) a desperation of air passengers
    d) a rank of prostitutes
    (e)a stench of pubsmokers.
    Maybe a sadness of bloggers?
    An ego of bloggers?
    A babbling of bloggers?

  6. a) a "press one, press two" of call centre automatons
    b) a "canaried orf" of ex-bankers
    c) a "scaremongering" of passengers
    d) a "scarification" of drug addicted prostitutes
    e) a "chimbley inn" of smokers


    a bathos of bloggers......

  7. I love them all, including the new ones. Though I always thought the collective noun for bankers is "a wunch".

  8. Well, it used to be a 'bonus' Daphne, but Rupert and I decided that was rather inappropriate, what? Haw, haw!

  9. that's not starlings, that your mucky fingerprints on that photo; wash your hands if you've been eating chips before you get your scrapbook of pier photos out in future!

  10. a. a yawn
    b. a smirk
    c. a whiff
    d. a desperation
    e. a cough

  11. Apologies to Dotterel for answer e. I must read other comments first in future.

  12. Oh love this!
    A warble of teleautomatons.
    A crunch of bankers
    A growl of passengers
    A nipple of prostitutes
    A cloud of smokers
    Good fun.
    East Anglian Troy had an excellent one for Bloggers. Will try to find out and report back!!

  13. A gossip of telephonists

  14. A WAD of bankers!


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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