Speaking collectively

Have you tried to herd cats?

(I use herd of cats, though, too, exactly because I like how funny-looking it sounds.)

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I love the word cacophony but it is more than that. They each weigh quite a bit and when they sit on boughs, those bend so leaves and flowers fall, fruit too if it is a fruiting tree. All the while they flap and squawk and trill. All the other birds, of which there are many, have to exit the tallest tree as the parrots arrive, because the parrots always take the tallest tree. And then within their little friend group, there appear to be politics of who sits where and close to whom, because they move about and adjust. So it is noise but also movement and drama and just being so much… extra. (I love them, though.)


Slugfest is nice!

My younger son suggested shining in honor of the little paths they leave. “The shining has occurred.” (It feels a little Stephen King to me.)



Haha…what about a “condescension” of cats


A redrum of slugs, then?


A zfg of cats

Yes, it’s for fun mostly. You don’t hear those imaginative collective nouns in every day speech very much.

Maybe the one exception, I’ve heard would be a murder of crows. I’ve heard that one used a few times, but usually only after a large rowdy, disturbed flock of crows made a huge racket. But, I have not heard anyone refer to a normally behaving flock of crows as a murder.


it’s really easy if you set out some boxes, they always flock to boxes
(now I’m mixing terms, enjoy!)

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There are an enormous number of collective nouns for groups of animals, but most of them are not ‘official’ and were coined at various times for a variety or reasons, often as the period equivalent of witty memes.

A lot of them only really became popular after the internet became a thing and people started passing around names they’d heard elsewhere, or wanted to popularize.

Personally, while I enjoy the various collective nouns, I tend to stick with the basic ones that don’t lead to confusion.


There’s an interesting backstory to these collective terms for groups of one type of animal. It was a chapter in some book I read twenty years ago… but the evolution of the terms was a form of resistance not unlike the words you find in the “Urban Dictionary.” Something about the rural peasantry “owning” the language in England so they would have knowledge that the elite did not. I’ll try to track it down.

Danish is my mother tongue and like Swedish we don’t have these very specific terms, though we have VERY cool common names for animals.


I was thinking about what @teellbee said, about nobody using collective words, and I think this may be a “company you keep” measure. My grandparents were farmers and casually referred to broods of hens, teams of horses, herds, flocks, litters, etc. There were definitely specific words.

I will be interested in your book @hkibak if you can find it! I love words and their histories. Please share with us some of your cool common names for animals if you don’t mind?

It’s kinda boring here, yes, pride of lions (прайд львов), pack of wolves/dogs (стая волков), flock of birds/fish (стая птиц), school of fish (косяк рыб), wedge of gees/cranes (клин гусей), herds of ungulates (отара овец, стадо/гурт коров, табун лошадей), maybe just family for some animals. But nothing in my mind close to murder of crows.


I never heard that one. I always thought it was a clowder of cats. No idea whether “clowder” has any meaning other than that; according to dictionary . com, it is defined as “a group or cluster of cats.” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/clowder

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Korean seems to be just as boring as Russian in this regard.

  • 다발 (dabal) – bouquets (also used for ‘wads of money’)
  • 필 (pil) – horses, mules, sheep (used similar to ‘head’ in English)
  • 떼 (ddae) – covers the same semantic ground as ‘group of’, ‘flock’, ‘herd’, ‘pride’, ‘pack’, ‘school’, ‘shoal’, ‘swarm’, ‘flight’, etc.
  • 무리 (muri) – same as above, but can also be used to refer to a group of people with the same purpose (protestors, parade viewers, a party waiting for tables at a restaurant …)

There are words used for plants and animals in the context of food that are more specific though –

  • 단 (dan) – a collection of green onions
  • 송이 (songi) – picked flowers (particularly roses) or bunches of a fruit (grapes, bananas)
  • 통 (tong) – watermelons
  • 포기 (pogi) – Chinese cabbages
  • 급 (geub) – 20 fish
  • 바리 (bari) – 2,000 fish
  • 접 (jeob) – 100 fruits (dried persimmons, radish, garlic, etc.)
  • 축 (chuk) – 20 cuttlefish
  • 코 (ko) – 20 dried pollock
  • 톳 (tot) – 100 sheets of dried laver
  • 판 (pan) – 30 eggs

The only one that I remember specifically is dogs: ein Wurf Hunde. (This wasn’t a common topic, even in an advanced-placement class, so I went and looked it up.) Wurf is ‘litter’, so you could have either a litter or a pack (Rudel). Cats also, apparently, come in a Wurf, and lions in a Rudel. I just remembered the dogs, because it sounded like German onomatopoeia.

My personal favorite is a kindle of kittens, although I’m as just as likely to refer to a group as a caboodle, thanks to a childhood mis-hearing of the phrase “kit and caboodle”.


I would never have the audacity to use any english collective term in the field.

I feel guity enough when I have to assist local folks with the pronunciation of english names of creatures despite that their ancestors likely described for a millennia in the native tongue.

I’d you used a collective noun on a field outting with me I would tease you about it until sold your binoculars.

save it for impressing your friends at brunch or at the weekend board game meeting :D

Chachcalacas are beautiful.

Chachcalacas are beautiful.

I think they are too. They are also called bach here. This is pronounced not like the composer but rather ending in the hard CH sound. It is how you call the same bird in Maya.

Unless one is trying to show off, no, one generally doesn’t use these fanciful words; most animals are pack (canids), herd (ungulates and other large herbivores), troop (primates), flock (birds and sheep), swarm (insects), school (fish), shoal (fish again) or just group. Perhaps the only exceptions are lions, which consistently are referred to as living in prides, and occasionally murders of crows.