Talk:List of English terms of venery, by animal

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The Copy of An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton I have refers to the beginning as 1450 with The Egerton Manuscript. So far may attempts to pin down this manuscript keep returning to this book as the definitive source, So I have not made any correction to the Article. (Besides, I'm not an expert on the mechanics of Wiki.) Sphere1952 (talk) 15:19, 14 December 2011 (UTC)


The site listed as the reference for a "glitter of unicorns" does not have that information. (talk) 02:44, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Merge proposal: misnamed and redundant[edit]

This appears to be just a list of collective nouns for collections of animals. There are a great many collective nouns for people objects, etc that are not included. I would propose renaming it but it is also redundant with List of animal names so I've proposed merging it there. Furthermore I propose we delete this article after the merge rather than use it as a redirect since the title is inaccurate. Jojalozzo 03:23, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Support merge. This article has sources, something that could really help improve List of animal names if merged. However I oppose the proposal to delete List of collective nouns instead of forwarding it. If someone decides to write a list of non-animal collective nouns, then they can turn it from a redirect into a new article.
There also doesn't seem to be a discussion yet on splitting out the History section of this article to Collective nouns in English. Can we have a justification for why that is needed? ~ Kimelea (talk) 14:19, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
I think if we keep this page we could make it a stub since a redirect to animal names doesn't make sense to me. Jojalozzo 15:22, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
There are a lot of animal-related pages linking, redirecting or linking to redirects to List of collective nouns. A looooot. Something like 60 that would need correcting if List of collective nouns was deleted or stopped being a list. Redirects are cheap, not held to the standards of articles, doesn't really matter if they are illogical so long as they direct people to what they were looking for, and this one is being used (WP:RFD#KEEP). My 2p. ~ Kimelea (talk) 17:14, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Oppose merge. Although the majority of the list is collective nouns for animals, it already includes some of the collective nouns for people - bishops, boys, bursars, butlers, civil servants, cobblers, cooks, foresters, gods, hermits, nuns, and pipers. Will there be a separate page just for these nouns?
This list was originally spread out several pages of collective nouns, including one for "reptiles and amphibians", one for "fish, invertebrates, and plants", the existing one for "birds" and also several separate pages listing collective nouns by term and by subject. Over a lengthy period of time, myself and others merged the pages into this current list. The next step was to merge List of collective nouns for birds into this list.
Having them all in this one list makes it easier to find terms for particular animals (and people). Additionally, by sorting under the collective noun heading, it can be used to find all the different animals for which a particular noun applies e.g. pack can be used for dogs, coyotes, hounds, mules, stoats, weasels, wolves and grouse. If it was merged into List of animal names as it exists now, this would not be possible. And if List of animal names was edited so that sorting by term could be done, I believe it would make that page extremely unwieldy.
However, I would Support splitting the History section into a new article titled Collective nouns in English as proposed, but I would keep the list of collective nouns as a section on the same page and move Collective noun#Terms of venery (words for groups of animals) into the new article, as that section has further information not included elsewhere.
Additionally, there is Wiktionary appendix of collective nouns which also needs to be considered for either deletion or merging into the new article. Ozzieboy (talk) 15:28, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Split out History section[edit]

This tag to split the History section to Collective nouns in English was added here by User:Dbachmann with the edit summary: "This is supposed to be a list article, the discussion of the topic itself would belong elsewhere".

I agree that this section offers more information than is appropriate for a list article but I recommend splitting off to Collective noun. At this time we don't need a separate article about English collective nouns when Collective noun already covers that topic well enough. Jojalozzo 15:40, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Ahh. Then yes, I support Jojalozzo's solution. Send that History content to Collective noun in the process of merging the list content into List of animal names. ~ Kimelea (talk) 17:00, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Concensus appears to be split to Collective noun Op47 (talk) 19:01, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
On second thoughts, when I tried to carry out the split, I found Collective noun already existed and carried a more developed version of this article's history section. Therefore, I just removed the history section. Trust this is ok. Op47 (talk) 19:15, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
All well and good, but next time make sure to move all the references in the deleted section that are used elsewhere back into the article. Thank you KDS4444 for fixing this. ;) Ozzieboy (talk)

Proposal to merge List of collective nouns for birds into List of animal names[edit]

I am starting this discussion on this talk page (rather than the destination article's talk page) as this one is already the location of a similar discussion on the fate of List of collective nouns.

Justification is the same as for List of collective nouns, which is also an animals list. List of animal names already contains collective nouns for birds, many of them unsourced. Merging the birds list into the animal names list would consolidate this information, adding sources, tackling the heavy overlap and centralising editor effort. ~ Kimelea (talk) 17:25, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

See my comments under "Merge proposal: misnamed and redundant" above. Ozzieboy (talk) 15:35, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

No offense but I think the "List of Collective Nouns for Animals" and the "List of Animal Names" are different. I suggest you make the page "List of Collective Nouns for Animals" seperated from "List of Animal Names." Please avoid sending me messages like last change cause I never did anything bad (just probably my brother). That is all. Sadie Louise Kane (talk) 09:41, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Concensus appears to be not to merge at this time. Op47 (talk) 19:02, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

See "Proposal to merge List of collective nouns for birds into List of collective nouns" below. Ozzieboy (talk) 17:32, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

For Animals[edit]

  • A swarm of bees
  • A colony of ants
  • A school of fish
  • An army of flies
  • A glitter of unicorns

and there are many more. (I hope many more contribute to this section.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sadie Louise Kane (talkcontribs) 09:46, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

It is not the purpose of Wikipedia to collect suggestions from readers or to function as a weblog of ideas— it is a compendium of notable information based on reliable published sources. You hope many more contribute to this section?? Is this meant to encourage a creative writing exercise? (if so, then it has no place on Wikipedia, which is NOT a creative writing exercise). KDS4444Talk 03:55, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, it is also a colony of bees under normal conditions, when they are living in a hive or other nest. When a colony divides, the bees who leave the nest are a swarm until they find another nest. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 19:42, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

All "AskOxford" and James Lipton citations[edit]

This list contains a large number of citations to an online source called "AskOxford". The problem is that many of them are likely simply made-up. Example: this list contained the term "flange" as a plural term for a group of baboons, and AskOxford as the only source... Because AskOxford was the only source other than children's books and brain-teasers to claim that the term exists. No reliable published source anywhere in the English-speaking world (and certainly nowhere in either the history of notable literature or of academia) uses the term "flange" to refer to a group of baboons, which means that it should not appear on this list and that AskOxford should probably not be credited as being a reliable source of published information, which it evidently is not. I find lists of collective nouns as intriguing as anyone, but I come to Wikipedia to get reliable information, not helpful ideas or suggestions. I would like to propose that AskOxford be reconsidered as a reliable published source, and to the extent that it is found to be otherwise, that all terms in this list and their corresponding AskOxford citations be removed. KDS4444Talk 04:10, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Also, James Lipton, though a gifted writer and published author, should not, I believe, be considered a reliable source for new terms for groups of animals. His book An Exaltation of Larks contains many terms he made up for literary effect, and this does not make them reliable— he is cited at least once in the article as it currently stands, and I would like to suggest that he, like AskOxford, be reconsidered as reliable sources here. KDS4444Talk 04:30, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
The term "flange" for baboons originally came from a sketch on the British TV series "Not The Nine O'Clock News" and escaped into the common vernacular (at least in England) and has been further propagated on the internet. Whether or not it is used by academia is another matter altogether. However the removal of the 'flange' entry will help slow down further propogation to a small extent.
The 'AskOxford' site was published by lexicographers at Oxford University Press, publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary, which I had always believed was a reliable source. Perhaps they were having a joke when they included it in their list of collective nouns - certainly the baboon meaning is not listed in the OED. However, I would be opposed to removing the 'AskOxford' references and would be interested to learn for certain whether or not the OED etc is considered a reliable source.
Regarding the James Lipton reference - Before the History section was removed recently, it included a section about Lipton's book which said "includes numerous terms made up by Lipton himself for humorous effect, although an exalting of larks is found in 15th-century lists". Lipton is only used as one reference for "exaltation of larks" and as there are 3 other references listed for this entry, I do not see any problem in removing this reference and have "been bold" and done so. Ozzieboy (talk)
I support removing AskOxford as an unreliable source. It offers only a list of references for its content so there's no way to verify any specific entry. Here's their list:
  • Rex Collings, A Crash of Rhinoceroses (Moyer Bell, 1993).
  • Helen and Philip Gosse, Gathered Together (Swan Press, Chelsea 1927).
  • eds. John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 20 vols (Oxford University Press, 1989).
  • eds. Judy Pearsall and Bill Trumble, Oxford English Reference Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • Steve Palin, A Menagerie of Animals (Taghan Press, 2000).
  • The Book of St Albans (1486) attributed to Dame Juliana Barnes, as cited by Gosse. Most of these are simply witticisms, never actually in use, but were taken up by later antiquarian writers, including Strutt.
  • Ivan G. Sparkes, Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms (White Lion, 1975).
  • Joseph Strutt, Sports and Pastimes of England (1801), as cited by Gosse.
  • Brian Wildsmith, Wild Animals (Oxford, 1967). Also Fishes and Birds by the same author.
So which is their reference for "flange"? Jojalozzo 15:45, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Support removing 'AskOxford' as a source, and all entries citing AskOxford as their sole source. This question was raised quite some time ago -- I'm wondering if maybe it's time to move on this? Krychek (talk) 14:40, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Support Now is the time. And anyone who can re-check each entry against good sources would be doing a great service. This Wikipedia page is partly responsible for propagating some of these memes. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 14:49, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Support, and thanks Krychek for starting on this. :) –Quiddity (talk) 19:53, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
My pleasure. Anyone with time on their hands is welcome to grab a letter! Krychek (talk) 16:52, 22 November 2013 (UTC)


It is nowhere said that the collective noun for doomwheels can't appear here. The entry is properly sourced, and the concept of a 'malfunction of doomwheels' is, as such, proper English, and should be here. The addition to the header regarding mythical creatures should also be removed. Bierlich (talk) 20:47, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia operates by consensus. Long standing consensus on this page is to exclude nouns from fiction or myth. You are welcome start a discussion here to a change to that consensus (WP:RFC perhaps) but until there is such a change please comply with established practice. I have reverted your addition to the list. Please do not engage in edit warring to contest current practice. Jojalozzo 21:07, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
Can you provide a reference to a talk-page or similar where the consensus is stated? Something is not a consensus just because you think it is. Please refrain from covering up your lack of arguments by flooding me with links to irrelevant policy-pages Bierlich (talk) 10:44, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
The consensus is stated in an editorial comment at the top of the article. I have started an RfC to work this out. Jojalozzo 16:54, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

I understand that some wikipedians thinks that works of fiction should not appear on this page. Can the relevant people please either provide a reference to an earlier discussion of the subject matter, or a short summary of current consensus? If not, I will re-add the doomwheel, and simply understand the removal of the entry as an honest mistake. Bierlich (talk) 08:54, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

I've added a section at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject Trivia Cleanup to give this issue more exposure to editors who may have something to add here. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 16:14, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
A separate article listing fictional collective nouns would be perfectly fine. The expectation when you come to a page like this is to find widely accepted facts, and it's annoying to find made-up facts mixed in. The entry on doomwheels doesn't even make sense anyway -- you have to click on some other article and search down halfway through a 3400 word page until you find that a doomwheel is a machine. And you're still left wondering why it's a collective noun. So if we allowed made up words, they must be marked as fictional, and the entries must be clear.

Anyway, there are terms like "drive" of dragons, from A Wind in the Door, that could be collected for a list of fictional collective nouns. It's the same principle as moving Category:Fictional lost cities and towns and Category:Mythical lost cities and towns out of Category:Lost cities and towns. Keep the information but don't treat it the same as fact. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:39, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

RfC: Should this list include fictional and mythical collective nouns?[edit]

I am late to the discussion, but I wanted to weigh in nonetheless.  Should we include fictional and mythical collective nouns in this list?  My answer is:

  • Qualified yes, as long as the fictional and mythical collective nouns are listed in their own section on this page; they should not be integrated into the real collective nouns section.
    • Why They Should Be Included—This page is titled List of collective nouns in English, not List of collective nouns in English excluding fictional and mythical nouns.  If it’s a collective noun, it is sourced, and it is of the English language, it should be included on this page—period.
    • Why Fictional and Mythical Collective Nouns Should Have Their Own Section—Integration of real and fictional and/or mythical collective nouns may lead to confusion.  (That being said, I would find it acceptable to integrate fictional and mythical collective nouns into the main list provided that they are marked as "fictional" or "mythical," as Whaledad suggests above.)
    • Additional Note—I could not help but to notice that my favourite mammal, the human, was not listed, even though humans are real nouns that can be expressed by collective English terms such as mob, gang, assembly, tribe, troop, team, party, collective, colony, company, congregation, and society.  Methinks this egregious oversight needs to be fixed.  Signed, allixpeeke (talk) 23:36, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

The linguistic phenomenon of collective nouns stems from hunting terminology and applies only to animals, not humans. You are right that any number of collective terms may be used for people, but none of them is specific to humans in the way that the collective nouns on this list are. Which is why none of the sources cited mentions humans. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:17, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for your response, Mr. Dennis Bratland.  But, I do not find it convincing.  You say that none of those terms are “specific to humans.”  True.  (For example, congregation is not “specific to humans” because it can also be used to refer to alligators, e.g.)  But then you continue by saying, “in the way that the collective nouns on this list are.”
The terms on this list are no more specific than the collective nouns I presented for humans.  Take, for example, the term herd.  Is it “specific to cattle”?  The list verifies that it is in fact not specific to cattle.  Indeed, according to this list, one can use the term herd to refer to antelopes, buffalo, caribou, cattle, cranes, curlews, deer, donkeys, elephants, giraffes, goats, harts, horses, ibex, moose, seals, sheep, swans, walruses, whales, wrens, and zebras.
So, although you would be correct to say that the term colony is not “specific to humans,” it seems that it is no less “specific to humans” than it is “to ants,” or “to bats,” or “to beavers,” or “to ibises,” or “to squirrels,” or “to weasels.”
It would seem that if we can have a gang of elk and a gang of turkeys, then gang is a term that is neither specific to elk nor specific to turkeys.  The fact that it is not specific to humans, therefore, should be no impediment to including it in the list.
If a mob is not specific to deer, emus, kangaroos, sheep, or whales, would that serve as fair justification for removing mob from the list?  And, if not, what rational justification can be offered for not mentioning that mob can also refer to a group of humans just as much as to deer, emus, kangaroos, sheep, and whales?
Thus, the “but none of them is specific to humans” argument seems untenable.
You do offer another argument, namely that the “linguistic phenomenon of collective nouns…applies only to animals, not humans.”  But, surely, you would not wish to maintain that humans are not animals!
All humans are great apes, and all great apes are apes.  All apes are primates, and all primates are mammals.  All mammals are tetrapods, and all tetrapods are animals.  Perhaps you meant to write, “only to non-human animals, not humans.”  But, even if that were your intent, I am inclined to believe that all animals ought to be included in this list, not just non-human animals.  For us to purposefully leave out the human being (which, coincidentally, has always been my favourite animal) seems a tad biased, and we don't wish for Wikipedia to be biased, as I am sure you would agree.
The only other argument for excluding humans is that the “linguistic phenomenon of collective nouns stems from hunting terminology.”  But, would it not be more accurate to say that some, but not all, collective nouns arose as hunting terms?  As soon as we admit to ourselves that not all collective nouns have arisen as a result of hunting, this final argument dissolves away, leaving, as I respectfully see it, no rational reason to exclude humans (which zoologist Desmond Morris affectionately describes as “the naked ape”) from the list.
All that said, the arguments I have presented above need not even be brought up, since, according to the very first sentence in the Wikipedia article on collective nouns, “In linguistics, a collective noun is the name of a number (or collection) of people or things taken together and spoken of as one whole.”
This is essential.  The definition clearly mentions people.  There is no ambiguity there.
But, this definition goes even further.  Not only are animals, including humans, incorporated in this definition, but even things are included.  There is no requirement even that collective nouns must refer solely to things that are alive.  This means that, if we can find a collective noun for a group of desks, then that would merit inclusion.
Considering that culture is a collective noun for a group of cells, I would immediately argue that it merits being added to this list.
Considering that a forest is a collective noun for a conglomeration of trees, I would immediately argue that it, too, merits being added to this list.
Now, if this were a list of terms of venery, then I think you could make the case that culture and forest should be excluded, since cultures and forests cannot be hunted.  But, then, we would have to also take toads off the list, because who has ever hunted a toad?  We’d likewise have to take spiders off the list—nobody goes spider hunting.  And we’d definitely have to take gods off the list, as they are quite impossible to hunt.
One might say, “Well, although nobody hunts frogs, they deserve nevertheless to remain on the list because one could, in practice, hunt for frogs.”  This might seem like a fair argument, but then we would have to acknowledge that it is possible for a cannibal, in practice, to hunt humans.  (Alas, it’s even possible for non-cannibals to hunt humans!)  Such a hunter may even dare to call her or his prey the most dangerous game!
Moreover, if general human beings were to be excluded from this list of terms of venery, it would seem rather curious that bishops be included.  Would we have to argue that it is easier to hunt a bench of bishops than it is to hunt non-bishop humans?
Alas, this tangent is moot, since this is not a list of terms of venery; it is, instead, a list of collective nouns in English, where a collective noun is “the name of a number (or collection) of people or things taken together and spoken of as one whole.”  That’s why the list includes a pantheon of gods and a bench of bishops.  It is also why the list ought to include a culture of cells, a forest of trees, and an assembly of humans, a party of humans, a tribe or troop or team of humans, a human mob, a human congregation, even a society of humans.
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
allixpeeke (talk) 18:32, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Because the language is built by the human animal to be its servant, and as such the list would be too long to be useful. It would need to be separated into _many_ contexts, which the page is not structured to support. There is another tool which is more suited to providing in-context collective nouns for humans: a thesaurus, which is a different project. (talk) 07:48, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to merge List of collective nouns for birds into List of collective nouns[edit]

Following on from previous discussions above, I propose that List of collective nouns for birds be merged into this article.

There is no need to have a separate page just for birds. Previous similar separate list pages for "reptiles and amphibians" and "fish, invertebrates, and plants" were merged into this page. All of the birds on the bird collective noun page now appear on this page.

As for the Spurious, unverified and misapprehended terms section, I am not sure if that needs to be kept, as this page is a list of collective nouns, not a list of what people might think are collective nouns.

So basically what needs to be done, as long as I haven't missed anything and people are in agreement, is to delete the List of collective nouns for birds page and make all the appropriate moves, redirects and link changes. I am quite happy to help with changing the Wikilinks, but will need help with whatever happens to the old article Talk Page, etc. Ozzieboy (talk) 17:30, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

If there's a consensus to merge (which I support), and all the content is already duplicated here, then nothing needs to be "deleted". Just replace the content of the birds list with "#REDIRECT [[List of collective nouns]]{{r from merge}}"
Then check for double-redirects (a bot will find any we miss), and remove any superfluous wikilinks from other articles (probably in SeeAlso sections).
Talkpages get left as they are, for transparency and easy reference.
As for the "Spurious" section, if they can be cited as "spurious" then it would be useful to include, otherwise not. —Quiddity (talk) 19:33, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for help Quiddity. As it has been more than a week since I proposed this, I have already made a start on this, but I will wait a little bit longer before I fully merge it, just in case someone has an objection. --Ozzieboy (talk) 19:48, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Merge has been done. Ozzieboy (talk) 20:15, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Binders and women[edit]

See and for this change. Opinion pieces such as the Guardian column by Ana Marie Cox are primary source material. This is not in any way the same as a lexicographer noting that a term has become current in English. Rather, it is a pundit using a term, which is obviously detrimental and critical at the expense of a political candidate. Which makes this a violation of WP:NPOV. Aside from that, it has been less than 12 hours since the coinage of this supposedly new term. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not for things made up one day and WP:NOT#NEWS.

When a Wikipedia editor finds example of usage of a term, and uses those to build a case that X is a term for Y, that is original research, and it violates the policy WP:NOR. What you need is a reliable source which actually says, "X is a term for Y". The first is an example of an editor playing amateur lexicographer; the second is an example of what we mean by verifiability.

And of course this blog entry by Katy Steinmetz is not an actual dictionary and it's absurd to treat it as one; it's a tongue-in-cheek parody of a dictionary. WP:RS means serious sources, not political satire. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:06, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Bursars = 'cheat'. Is this vandalism?[edit]

Is the collective noun for bursars really a 'cheat', or is this just vandalism? — Preceding unsigned comment added by TehGrauniad (talkcontribs) 17:31, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

There is NO WAY that it is correct. I removed it previously and I am doing so again until someone who actually has or has access to the purported source confirms. The same source is used for many of the collective nouns here. It would have been simple for someone to have just copied the reference link from one valid entry to this one. I haven't been able to find any source which confirms this and cannot find the original source mentioned.Caidh (talk) 20:15, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
Note: I looked through Google Books which had several editions of the purported source (Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English) though not the 1940s edition used in the reference. None of them had bursar mentioned at all. Another book by the same author had bursar listed including its etymology but only listed 'bursary' in conjunction with it. No plural or collective noun was given though such was given for other nouns. I am convinced the original addition of bursar and 'cheat' was vandalism which just went undetected for a long time.Caidh (talk) 20:24, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
You are correct in this. It's almost certainly vandalism. Jojalozzo 22:23, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
Good stuff, I didn't just want to delete it without asking, in case I messed things up. TehGrauniad (talk) 14:19, 26 January 2013 (UTC)


It's reasonably common to refer to a group of goats as a 'mob'. Here is a fairly reputable source that uses the word a couple of times:[1] I would have added it myself, but I had some trouble making the reference work. (It is possible that the word is mainly used of wild goats, or in an australasian context, but I didn't find references for either of those things) (talk)

And a google books reference if that's better:[2] (talk) 07:40, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Marmalade of ponies[edit]

Where's marmalade? Has it been shown to be false? I remember seeing it there. --Sigmundur (talk) 10:13, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Wikiblame says no, it's never been on this list. And a quick search shows it's not real. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:45, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Order of presentation[edit]

Semantically this page is kinda strange. The article is called List of Collective Nouns and you find a table of animals. The first column should be the List of Collective Nouns (Flock, Herd...) and the second, what each may be composed of. (J.Kup) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:41, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

A list like this answers the question, "What do you call a group of...?" You don't look up "flock" and then look over to see that's what you call a group of seagulls. You look at the animal and then see what the names are. If you want to know a state flower, you look up the state, then the flower, as in List of U.S. state flowers. There are several Featured lists (judged Wikipedia's best content) that follow this format, like List of Kentucky state symbols or List of Indiana state symbols. True they are called List of X, but X is not necessarily in the first column. It's pedantic to insist otherwise, and it ignores the way typical reader will look for the information they need. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:57, 24 January 2014 (UTC)


Nice work on this table, but perhaps it would look better if the entries were capitalized? To show you what I mean I've quickly changed the text using CSS. Unfortunately it Capitalizes The First Letter Of Every Word, so words that shouldn't be capitalized (in/a/or/water/flight..) are. Fixing this would require a lot of hand coding, which I'm willing to do myself. I just thought it better to ask if there are any objections first. Regards, nagualdesign (talk) 02:17, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Not a good idea. Even if you fix the bug, all it accomplishes is implying that these are proper nouns. Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Tables says yes, the headings should have the first letter capitalized, but not the content.

Here is the version with the capitalization added. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 02:36, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Fair enough. I wasn't aware of the MoS guidelines. And thank you for linking to my edit/demo after reverting. nagualdesign (talk) 02:59, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Is there a collective noun for whores?[edit]

From an ancient email, describing voy:Zhuhai#Lotus_Road.

The girls have managers who hang around, mainly older women referred to as "ayi", Chinese for "auntie". Once in a while a cop car or motorcycle drives down the pedestrians-only street. The ayi yell a warning and the girls flee en masse into the stores so the cops won't see them. Short skirts and high heels do not work well for running; a swarm of a dozen or so galloping clumsily toward safety in a sort of fluttery panic is definitely a sight.
What's the right collective noun here? A flutter of floozies? An anthology of pros? A stride of streetwalkers? A tray of tarts? A hustle of harlots?

Anyone know? Pashley (talk) 15:31, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure about a collective noun, but a single female prostitute in Chinese is referred to as "ji", which means chicken (or I suppose a hen, as they are female), while a male prostitute (I'm not certain whether this is a heterosexual or homosexual male prostitute) is referred to as a duck! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:50, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

An 'ecstasy' perhaps? ;-D VapourGhost (talk) 11:13, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

This doesn't really apply to the scenario in the original post, but I believe I've heard pimps in movies refer to their "stables", for whatever that may be worth. One can also refer to groups of things or persons according to their location or container, so one could speak of a brothel of whores, or a bawdy house of them, or a stew of them (to use Shakespearean terminology), or what have you.
As for a number of whores running down the street to avoid the police, one could always employ metaphor, as with a gaggle, a flutter (or fluttering, which would be more imagery than metaphor), or a flock; or one could use multi-purpose collective nouns, such as pack, crowd, gang, or congregation (with perhaps some amusing irony). J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:30, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

These collective nouns are never used[edit]

Collective nouns are never used except for trivia competitions. A congregation of alligators. Really? When has that ever been used? Not even by David Attenborough. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:33, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Proposal: Move to "List of English terms of venery, by animal"[edit]

This is not a list of collective nouns in English. A collective noun is a noun that stands for a group or quantity of some thing or substance, e.g., pair (as of scissors), ream (as of paper), foursome (as of golfers), handful (as of coins), measure (as of corn), bolt (as of cloth), paper (as of pins), and so forth. This is a list of animals, giving the fanciful terms allegedly used for groups of them: in other words, it is a collection of terms of venery, arranged by animal.

The page is part of that whimsical (and, in my opinion, wholly dispensable) practice of coining charming names for groups of animals. The problem of spurious terms and unreliable sources, raised several times on this talk page, stems from the nature of the subject matter itself: nearly all of these terms have been made up, whether anciently or recently, for whimsical effect, not derived from the common usage of persons who have regularly to do with the animals in question. The page should not exist at all, but if it must, it should be moved to "List of English terms of venery, by animal". J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:16, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

Support. I agree that the list here isn't really a list of collective nouns in general, but rather a list of terms of venery. It should either be expanded to include all collective nouns, or better yet, moved to a more appropriate title. As to whether the article should be deleted, no, of course not. Most of the terms may be spurious in the sense that they're pretty much ghost words with no real usage outside reference works, trivia contests, and word puzzles, but they're certainly well attested in those genres. The article just needs to make these facts clear. —Psychonaut (talk) 19:44, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
Support as per above. nagualdesign 01:16, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

As nobody objected to my proposal, I have moved the page. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 22:39, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Non-free content[edit]

This list relies heavily on a few published sources, from which it tends to lift entries wholesale, such as "Ask Oxford: Collective Terms for Groups of Animals", published by the Oxford University Press. See, e.g., the entries for "Mallard", here and in the source: they are identical. Are these sources not under copyright? J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 19:36, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

A mere list of words meeting some objective criterion is not copyrightable. I see no legal problem with us listing these terms here. —Psychonaut (talk) 19:41, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

A flange of baboons[edit]

Although this has been discussed before, and presumably resolved, flange has made a reappearance on the list. The reference is from The Telegraph, which states, "The lexicologists at the OED’s Ask Oxford website now cheerfully list “flange” in first place as a collective noun for baboons." This may have been true in 2009 when the article was published, but I can find no evidence of it now. If I am wrong please provide a direct link in the article. Moreover, does AskOxford even exist anymore? The nearest I can find is Oxford Dictionaries' What do you call a group of ...? Perhaps all of these references need revisiting. I'll leave it for somebody else to please revert the current version. nagualdesign 01:19, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree, this has been discussed previously and there is no reason for it to be here. Even if it WAS used at one point, I don't think this page needs to include every satirical made up term. There has to be some threshold of usage which this does not meet.Caidh (talk) 03:08, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
The OED seem to have turned their backs on some of the old Ask Oxford entries. The only source for some of the terms are archived pages, and it isn't like the OED has disappeared. I suggest that any AskOxford citations be removed if they can't be replaced by current links. If nobody objects I may do this myself. nagualdesign 00:30, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Agree with the above sentiments. Since there doesn't seem to be much support for "flange" I will be bold and remove it. Sundayclose (talk) 00:43, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, this really should be done. I started with one group (removing the AskOxford "C" word references). I've replaced them for words that only had that source as a reference. I found this book in Google Books which may be of help for this Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras


A group of librarians is called a "volume".[1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jnossoff (talkcontribs) 20:30, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia requires reliable secondary sources for this sort of thing. See WP:CS for more information. Thank you for not adding this to the article. nagualdesign 21:06, 27 October 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Nossoff, Joel-Original with posting author, Joel Nossoff, October 27 2015

Another possibly useful source[edit]

Please check this source (which I ran across on wikt:pace) for whether it is suitable for the purposes of this article; it contains some terms not yet in the list. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:38, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

Thanks. It's interesting, but I have to wonder about the reliability of a source written by someone who is known mostly for writing about lighthouses, especially since she cites no sources for her information. Most (but not all) of the current sources are dictionaries or are written by experts in a field related to animals. This article has a history of poorly sourced information. Sundayclose (talk) 23:56, 10 November 2015 (UTC)


My recent edit had been reversed saying source did not list cattle specifically. Actually it does:



noun 1. a.a riotous or disorderly crowd of people; rabble

b.(as modifier): mob law, mob violence

2. (often derogatory) a group or class of people, animals, or things

3. (Austral & NZ) a flock (of sheep) or a herd (of cattle, esp when droving)

4. (often derogatory) the masses

5. (slang) a gang of criminals

I have re-reversed the edit. Dstern1 (talk) 15:26, 1 December 2015 (UTC)


I'm not an expert, so I'm not going to edit the main page, but I'm confused as to why 'brace' (eg. 'brace o pheasants') is not included. It's in common use, unlike many or most of the names in the list; and it is in other on-line lists. Examples: (talk) 06:52, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

I think it is because every dictionary entry I see for "brace" when referring to pheasants specifically refers to only a pair, not a larger group as the terms of venery do. I've seen "three brace of pheasants" to refer to 6 pheasants so I don't think it works in this context. Caidh (talk) 14:57, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

A group of raccoons -- revisited.[edit]

I'm sorry, but I've been taking care of and helping injured and needy raccoons for nearly 40 years. And I'm always disappointed with whomsoever came-up with that silly "A Gaze of Raccoons". Surely, with the fluidity of any language in use, that we can promote an update to that stupid non-descriptive monicker.

Here's some of my suggestions, with personal favorites being a mischief, mob, gang, or rave of raccoons. Until you've stood in the middle of a rambunctious and snarky group of 30-40 wild raccoons at 2am in the middle of your yard, trying to get them to behave and not tear-off each others faces, you know not of what you speak by calling them "A Gaze of Raccoons". They do anything BUT gaze. "A Gaze of Raccoons" is astoundingly silly, stupid, and just plain wrong.

A Mischief of Raccoons, A Mob of Raccoons, A Cartel of Raccoons, A Syndicate of Raccoons, A Gang of Raccoons, A Rabble of Raccoons, A Pillaging of Raccoons, A Plundering of Raccoons, A Riot of Raccoons, A Rave of Raccoons

Parliament of Owls[edit]

The term "Parliament of Owls" comes from C. S. Lewis's 1953 book "The Silver Chair". In the book it refers to a meeting of talking owls. A check with Google N-grams shows that the term was not used before that book came out, usage spiked in the year the book was published, and about ten years later started to be used elsewhere.

Moreover, Paul F. Ford's "Companion to Narnia" in a footnote for the entry for Glimfeather (p203), notes "This is a humorous allusion to Chaucer's poem 'Parliament of Fowls'."

Also, owls are mostly solitary, so it's rare to have a group of them, much less need a specific term for them. A search of Google Scholar suggests that "flock" or "group" is used in research, while the the phrase "parliament of owls" is not. Instead, the phrase is used mostly in lists of animal groups, in papers that insist people use the 'correct' term, and papers which appear to use the correct term because the author believes it to be correct, but appears to only have third-hand experience with owls.

There is no indication that this is a historical or widely used term used for a group of owls. While there are many sources which make that claim, they appear to be humorous and/or non-scholarly, often repeating lists collected from elsewhere with no attempt to assess the validity.

I accept that it can become an alternative plural, especially in a literary context. But listing it here, without comment, perpetuates the urban legend that "Parliament of Owls" is more correct or historical than "flock of owls".

In researching this I came across the scholarly article "Narrative and learning to teach: implications for teacher-education curriculum" which references an observation from James Lipton's 1993 book "An Exaltation of Larks." I quote:

Lipton discovered that such collections are quite old, dating from the

mid-15th century. These days teacher educators would probably curricularize this material as word-play, perhaps a motivating introduction to poetry. Along these lines, for example, Griffin recently invented 'a brace of orthodontists'. But in the 15th century the educative purpose was much more sober. Such lists were a valuable resource to provide a gentleman with the means of social acceptability and to spare him the embarrassment of some blunder at table---of referring, for example, to a bunch or flock of owls when the proper term is a parliament of owls. In such incidents, 'those who are wiser may have the laugh of you, and we who love you may be shamed', a quote from a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle in which a young man is being schooled in the proper terminology to avoid embarrassment (Lipton 1993: 1).

(As mentioned elsewhere on this talk page, Lipton appears to have combined real terms with humorous but imaginative or literary alternatives that were otherwise unused.)

This shows that 1) such lists can be passed around as "word-play", without a basis in real use, so cannot be trusted as a good source, 2) that such lists can be a sort of shibboleth; I think it's used to signal cleverness or education, and 3) the authors of this article incorrectly believe that "the proper term is a parliament of owls". Again, Wikipedia should not help perpetrate urban legends! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree with this anonymous person (who should really create an account and log in), but in this specific case I can't. As I've said above, I think this whole page is silly and should not exist. Nearly all the "terms" on the list are whimsical inventions: not true vernacular terms, coined and used by persons engaged in hunting or herding or otherwise dealing with groups of animals. A few, however, have achieved literary currency, among which we must number "a parliament of owls". If the list is to survive at all, then "a parliament of owls" should remain on it. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 16:37, 14 March 2016 (UTC)
You write that you disagree with me. I don't see the disagreement. I did not call for removal. I wrote "I accept that it can become an alternative plural, especially in a literary context. But listing it here, without comment, perpetuates the urban legend that "Parliament of Owls" is more correct or historical than "flock of owls"." Do you disagree with that? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:11, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, I thought that the anonymous person was calling for the removal of "parliament of owls" from this list. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 17:06, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

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I have not checked the above links, and won't; but I would like to point out that any entry citing should be deleted, per the discussion above establishing that as not being a reliable source. J. D. Crutchfield | Talk 20:18, 9 May 2016 (UTC)


cite The collective nouns for otters are bevy, family, lodge, romp (being descriptive of their often playful nature) or, when in water, raft — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 20 October 2016 (UTC)


I think there should be a notification on the article page, just above the list itself, saying something along the lines of, "Please do not add items to this list without valid references." nagualdesign 03:48, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

I'm opposed to that. Common sense should be all the notice we need. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brettwardo (talkcontribs) 02:42, 3 February 2017 (UTC)