One of the best parts of the English language (for this word-nerd at least!) are collective nouns. Originally, they were used for hunting and sport, and it was a mark of true nobility if you knew the right collective noun for the prey of the day.
Collective nouns are also very democratic. There is no governing body who decides on the correct term (though some have been in fashion for so long as to be accepted as final). Instead usage determines the noun, and what doesn’t catch on falls away.
Collective nouns are, of course, most famous for animals, some more fanciful than others:
- a shrewdness of apes
- a clowder of cats
- a herd of buffalo
- a murder of crows
- a wisdom of wombats
They’re also often wonderfully visual and can add a touch of whimsy and colour to a sentence without the weight of adjectival phrases. How…
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