Animal Congregations, or What Do You Call a Group of…..?

Animal Congregations, or What Do You Call a Group of…..?

So you’re stuck on 15 down (the collective name for a group of rhinos) in today’s crossword puzzle or you are writing the definitive novel about 17th century England and you need to know what they called a group of rooks, or perhaps you are into writing poetry and want to celebrate spring with a reference to larks. Whatever the motivating factor, we have received a spate of questions on collective nouns or group names for all sorts of critters. Perhaps the following, gleaned and compiled from several sources, will help. I’ve tried to indicate proper usage for terms that apply to a specific type of assemblage or to only a single gender or age, but some of my sources were fairly general. Where my sources disagreed on spelling, I let the majority rule. This listing exhausts the meager pile of references available at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; if the animal that you are interested in doesn’t appear here, please, please, ask someone else, because I can’t help you!

If you are interested in derivation of some of these names, or if you just want some fun reading, check out James Lipton’s book entitled “An Exaltation of Larks” 2nd edition (Penguin Books 1977). Birders interested in avian nomenclature should see Bruce Campbell and Elizabeth Lack’s “A Dictionary of Birds” (Buteo Books 1985).

Happy Trivia, Dave Fellows



Mammals
Apes A shrewdness
Asses A pace
Badgers A cete
Bats A colony
Bears A sloth, sleuth
Buffalo A gang, an obstinacy (I suspect these refer to old world buffalo; use “herd” for American bison)
Cats A clowder, a pounce; for kittens…A kindle, litter, an intrigue
Cattle A drove, herd
Deer A herd, bevy (refers only to roe deer)
Dogs A litter (young), pack (wild), cowardice (of curs); specific to hounds…A cry, mute, pack, kennel
Elephants A herd
Elk A gang
Ferrets A business
Fox A leash, skulk, earth
Giraffes A tower
Goats A tribe, trip
Gorillas A band
Hippopotamuses A bloat
Horses A team, harras, rag (for colts), stud (a group of horses belonging to a single owner, string (ponies)
Hyenas A cackle
Kangaroos A troop
Leopards A leap
Lions A pride
Martens A richness
Moles A labor
Monkeys A troop, barrel
Mules A pack, span, barren
Otters A romp
Oxen A team, yoke
Pigs A drift, drove, litter (young), sounder (of swine), team, passel (of hogs), singular (refers to a group of boars)
Porcupines A prickle
Rabbits A colony, warren, nest, herd (domestic only), litter (young); specific to hares…A down, husk
Rhinoceroses A crash
Seals A pod, herd
Sheep A drove, flock, herd
Squirrels A dray, scurry
Tigers A streak
Whales A pod, gam, herd
Wolves A pack, rout or route (when in movement)

Birds
Birds in general A flight (in the air), flock (on the ground), volary, brace (generally for gamebirds or waterfowl, referring to a pair or couple killed by a hunter)
Bitterns A sedge
Buzzards A wake
Bobolinks A chain
Chicks (of many species) A brood; clutch
Coots A cover
Cormorants A gulp
Cranes A sedge
Crows A murder, horde
Dotterel A trip
Doves A dule, pitying (specific to turtle doves)
Ducks A brace, flock (in flight), raft (on water) team, paddling (on water), badling
Eagles A convocation
Finches A charm
Flamingos A stand
Geese A flock, gaggle (on the ground), skein (in flight)
Grouse A pack (in late season)
Gulls A colony
Hawks A cast, kettle (flying in large numbers), boil (two or more spiraling in flight)
Herons A sedge, a siege
Jays A party, scold
Lapwings A deceit
Larks An exaltation
Mallards A sord (in flight), brace
Magpies A tiding, gulp, murder, charm
Nightingales A watch
Owls A parliament
Parrots A company
Partridge A covey
Peacocks A muster, an ostentation
Penguins A colony
Pheasant A nest, nide (a brood), nye, bouquet
Plovers A congregation, wing (in flight)
Ptarmigans A covey
Rooks A building
Quail A bevy, covey
Ravens An unkindness
Snipe A walk, a wisp
Sparrows A host
Starlings A murmuration
Storks A mustering
Swallows A flight
Swans A bevy, wedge (in flight)
Teal A spring
Turkeys A rafter, gang
Widgeons A company
Woodcocks A fall
Woodpeckers A descent

Reptiles and Amphibians
Crocodiles A bask
Frogs An army
Toads A knot
Turtles A bale, nest
Snakes, vipers A nest

Fish
Fish in general A draft, nest, school, shoal (some authors claim that the common “school” is a corruption of shoal, and therefore incorrect)
Bass A shoal
Herring An army
Sharks A shiver
Trout A hover

Invertebrates
Ants A colony
Bees A grist, hive, swarm
Caterpillars An army
Clams A bed
Cockroaches An intrusion
Flies A business
Gnats A cloud, horde
Grasshoppers A cloud
Hornets A nest
Jellyfish A smack
Locusts A plague
Oysters A bed

 

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