The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Collective Nouns

Books & WordsAlexandra king2 Comments

My love affair with the English language is pretty steamy. I go wild for alliteration and assonance. Weak at the knees for compound nouns and flirty little conjunctions.  Hand me a fat Hemingway-esque paragraph of active verbs and solid unfussy Anglo Saxon words filled with breath and life and watch me swoon with pleasure. Give me onamatopeia like "sizzle" and "echo". Or obscure sexy nouns that describe simple pleasures like "petrichor" a word for the scent of rain on dry ground, or "apricity" a word that specifically means the warmth of the winter sun. What about ugly words that describe gorgeous things, like "pulchritude", for beautiful and "salubrious", for healthy. Or words thats somehow describe physical ailments visually, like "corpulent" for obsese and "carbuncular" for pimpled.

I could go on. But my favourites, my absolute favourites, are collective nouns, mainly because, in the giant free-for-all that the English language was, and to a certain degree still is, someone was having an immense amount of fun. Below are a list of my favourites.

1) A "misbelief" of painters

2) An "unkindness" (!!!) of ravens

3) A "murmuration" of starlings

4) A "shrewdness" of apes

5) A "lamentation" of swans

6) A "worship" of writers

7) A "pitying" of turtle doves

8) A "parliament" of owls

9) A "romp" of otters

10) A "crash" of seals

What are your favourite collective nouns? I'd love to hear.