C is for Collective Nouns

Recycle Congress in 2012.

From JEOPARDY! episode which aired on 11/11/11.

A large group of families that are related, it’s from the Gaelic for “family”. Answer below.

Here’s something someone e-mailed me, with some modifications, about collective nouns:

We are all familiar with a

Herd of cows (also the term, not necessarily exclusively, for antelope, boar, buffalo, chamois, chinchillas, deer, donkeys, elephants, elk, giraffes, gnus, goats, hippopotami, horses, kangaroos, llamas, moose, oxen, pigs, seals, walruses, whales, wolves, yaks, and zebras)

a Flock of chickens, (also camels, sheep, and various birds – including seagulls?)

a School of fish (also porpoises and whales)

and a Gaggle of geese.

However, perhaps less widely known are:

a Pride of lions,

a Murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens),

an Exaltation of doves.
And, presumably because they look so wise:

a Parliament of owls.

Now consider a group of Baboons.
They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates.
And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?

Believe it or not …a Congress!


Go green. Recycle Congress in 2012.

(Does this suggest that places with parliaments are smarter, more civilized – or if you prefer, civilised?)

The JEOPARDY! question: What is clan?

ABC Wednesday, Round 10.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

39 thoughts on “C is for Collective Nouns”

  1. Too funny. A congress of baboons, a exaltation of doves and a murder of crows are my favorites that were new to me. It goes to show being a dove has its advantages. Carver, ABC Wednesday Team

  2. You got a laugh from me at the Congress of Baboons.
    I hadn’t heard of some of those myself.
    Thanks for getting the thinking cap going this morning.

  3. Very few owls in our parliament. I think the collective nouns for birds are the most imaginative, and apt, as the ones you have chosen point out, one my own favourites is a mumuration of starlings.

  4. A murder of crows certainly got my attention … they do look devious in the photo you provided. Because they look so adorable, I think we should call the herd a cows a cuddle of cows instead. 🙂

  5. Hahahaha a Congress of baboons. Thanks for sharing these Roger, I honestly don’t know most of the collective nouns for each group.

  6. You got my attention with a “Congress Of Baboons” I had to LOL when I read that one.

    Now…What is a Clan? Well….My Clan is made up of my relatives. What is your Clan?

  7. Aren’t collective nouns wonderful! How about a pandemonium of parrots, for instance? I thoroughly enjoyed your gathering of collectives!
    ABC Team

  8. I’ve always loved the phrase “a murder of crows”!
    I belong to two clans, and am entitled to wear both clan tartans. I just love that. A tangle of tartans, perhaps?
    Great post today, Roger.

  9. I had not heard of an “exultation of doves” or a “parliament of owls.” Great post for today – I love having to explain this sort of thing to kids. Is it a singluar or a plural? It’s singular!

    abcw team

  10. That’s interesting ! I certainly belong to the gaggle group ! For the politicians I would rather prefer “clowns” instead of “baboons”, as it is an insult for the poor baboons !
    ABC Team

  11. You always thinks of the non-ordinary words, it’s a bliss to visit you every week to just see what words you think of next.

  12. Never heard of those less widely known collective nouns before except pride of lions. Seriously, a congress of baboons! Lol! Can I tweet this? 🙂

  13. A congress of… I don’t know why I’m laughing so hard. Or do I? I’ve always enjoyed ‘murder of crows’ as it feels so appropriate. Probably a little Poe-ish.

  14. wow, great entry Roger. i definitely learned name of family here today. and a new name for politicians congress of baboons, i heard the word baboon at the show PanAm when one character having arguments about the politics and called the group baboons. Thanks for sharing this and thanks for the visit.

  15. That’s a lot of milk. Collective nouns are hard, more so with English as a secondary language. In some languages, they don’t even have it.

  16. i laughed on your statement “Congress of Baboons”! hahaha this is really neat Roger. I really like to learn those collective nouns stuff. I’d like to feature this in my facebook if you don’t mind. 🙂

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