Collective Nouns

 In Rules and Usage

Collective nouns are really one of the most fun, strange and interesting parts of the English language.  There are some that all of us – native speakers and new English speakers – say all the time.  A flock of birds.  A bunch of flowers. A herd of cows.  Collective nouns define a group – of animals, people or things, but the words are specific to the nature of the group.  For example, there can be a crowd of people, a box of crayons or a bevy of beauties. Because of the origins of a lot of collective nouns come from an age (around the 15th century) when the English that was spoken was a language we would not understand today, many collective nouns contain words we just would not use today, and so these are unfamiliar terms.  Then again, lots of people have fun even now dreaming up new collective nouns which contain words or concepts that are very current.  On the whole, most of the traditional collective nouns are used to refer to groups of animals, birds and other creatures, and they stem from English hunting traditions in the late Medieval period.

Collective nouns, common and uncommon


A troupe of dancers

A bunch of flowers

A band of players

A board of directors

A class of pupils

A herd of elephants

A flock of birds

A pod of whales


An enterance of actresses

A flange of baboons

A culture of bacteria

A galaxy of beauties

A goring of butchers

A soufflé of clouds

A murder of crows

A fagot of drummers

A peck of Frenchmen

A helix of geneticists

A grope of groupies

An unhappiness of husbands

A mischief of mice

A metamorphosis of ovoids

An ambush of tigers

A crossing of zebras

A charm of finches

A tough of lesbians

An exaltation of larks

A shower of meteorologists

An abominable sight of monks

A parliament of owls

A nucleus of physicists

A lechery of priests

A rhumba of rattlesnakes

An unkindness of ravens

A shiver of sharks

A sodom of shepherds

A hack of smokers

A beautification of spatulas

A flock of tourists

A phalanx of umbrellas

You can find a very comprehensive list of collective nouns here

SOME NEWER COLLECTIVE NOUNS (people are always being invited to invent a new collective noun )

a plethora of pinatas

a nucleus of physicists

a balance of accountants

a scoop of journalists

For students of the English language, a knowledge of some collective nouns is a great way to have fun with the language, exhibit your skills  – and sound more like a native speaker.  What additions to this collection can you think up?

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