While I was teaching a lesson on Skype today, we got talking about collective nouns (group names) for different animals and there are some really interesting ones so I thought I’d write a post about them.
There are a few main words that we usually use for groups of animals:
Herd (for a group of herbivores – animals which only eat plants)
Pack (for a group of carnivores – animals which only eat meat)
School (for a group of fish)
Flock (for a group of birds)
If you’re not sure of the right word, you can use these and your meaning will be clear, even if it isn’t the correct word for that specific animal – and often, it won’t be, because there are many, many special cases and exceptions!
Here are a few well known ones:
Pod of whales
Pod of dolphins
Flock of sheep (even though they aren’t birds!)
Pride of lions
Gaggle of geese
These are my favourites:
Murder of crows
Mischief of rats
Unkindness of ravens
Parliament of owls
Skulk of foxes
Unfortunately, there are no rules for these, you just have to remember them! However, a lot of the words have interesting meanings when used normally as verbs or nouns, and the character of the animal is often a little bit similar to those meanings. For example, lions seem to be very proud animals (the king of the jungle!), and the way foxes run away from people could be described as skulking – and when crows wake me up in the morning, I want to murder them! This is the best way to remember these special cases.