Posted by: episystechpubs | November 26, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Flock of Seagulls

As we went for coffee this morning, my curious co-worker, Kathryn, told me that there is a name for words that refer to a group of something, like a “gaggle of geese.” They are generally referred to as collective nouns, but more specifically, she was talking about “terms of venery.” (Thanks, Kat!)

A brief history from Wikipedia (even briefer with some editing):

The tradition of using "terms of venery" or "nouns of assembly” stems from an English hunting tradition of the Late Middle Ages. The fashion of a consciously developed hunting language came to England from France. It is marked by an extensive proliferation of specialist vocabulary, applying different names to the same feature in different animals.

The following list was compiled by English Club (http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/animal-terms.htm) and not only includes the terms of venery, but the terms for male, female, and young specimens of the animal. These are common animals. For a broader list of terms of venery, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_collective_nouns.

Animal Male Female Young Collective term
(terms of venery)
ant winged male, aner queen, worker antling a colony of ants, an army of ants
bat male female pup a cloud of bats, a colony of bats
bear boar sow cub a sleuth of bears, a sloth of bears
bee drone queen, worker larva, schadon, fry (plural noun) a hive of bees, a swarm of bees
bird cock hen nestling, fledgling a flock of birds, a flight of birds (in the air)
buffalo bull cow calf a herd of buffalo
cat tom queen kitten a clutter of cats
chicken rooster hen chick a brood of chickens, a flock of chickens
cow bull cow calf a herd of cattle
dog dog bitch puppy, pup a pack of dogs
dolphin bull cow pup a school of dolphins
duck drake duck duckling a raft of ducks
elephant bull cow calf a herd of elephants
fish male female fry (plural noun) a school of fish
fox dog, reynard vixen cub a troop of foxes, an earth of foxes
frog male female tadpole, froglet an army of frogs, a colony of frogs
goose gander goose gosling a flock of geese, a gaggle of geese
goat billy (domestic) nanny kid a flock of goats, a herd of goats
horse stallion, colt (young) mare, filly (young) foal a herd of horses, a team of horses (in harness), a string of horses (for racing)
kangaroo buck doe joey a mob of kangaroos, a troop of kangaroos
lion lion lioness cub a pride of lions
monkey male female infant a troop of monkeys
owl male female owlet a parliament of owls
ox bull, steer (castrated) cow calf a herd of oxen, a drove of oxen (when driven in a group), a team of oxen (in harness)
penguin male female chick a colony of penguins
person man woman baby, infant a crowd of people
pig boar sow suckling, piglet a herd of pigs, a flock of pigs
rabbit buck roe bunny, bunny rabbit a colony of rabbits, a nest of rabbits, a warren of rabbits (strictly, where they live)
sheep ram ewe lamb a flock of sheep
tiger tiger tigress cub, whelp a streak of tigers
whale bull cow calf a school of whales, a shoal of whales, a pod of whales (smaller groups)
wolf dog bitch cub a pack of wolves, a herd of wolves
zebra stallion mare foal a cohort of zebra, a herd of zebra

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor


Responses

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