Thursday, July 29, 2010

A bloat of hippopotami!

17th century engraving of a hippopotamus 

Some of my favourite collective names for birds and animals (as in, "a pack of dogs"), taken from my beloved Oxford English Dictionary. I shall put an asterisk besides those names that particularly made me snort with laughter - yes, I know snorting with laughter is terribly unladylike and so not something Jane would do, but sometimes I just can't help myself!

a shrewdness of apes
a bellowing of bullfinches* 
a sloth of bears
an army of caterpillars* 
a chattering of choughs
a bask of crocodiles
a murder of crows
a busyness of ferrets
a charm of finches
a skulk of foxes
a gaggle of geese* (this one is more familiar than some of the others, but isn't it so appropriate?) 
a siege of herons (huh?)
a bloat of hippopotami*
an exultation of larks
a tiding of magpies
a labour of moles
a parliament of owls (anyone remember that chapter in C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair?)
a congregation of plovers
an unkindness of ravens
a crash of rhinoceros*
a rookery of rooks (duh)
a dopping of sheldrake* (what exactly are sheldrake, anyway?)
a pandemonium of parrots* (trust me, the name is fitting!! There are lots of parrots where I live.)
a fluther or smack of jellyfish
a dout or destruction of wild cats
a fall of woodcock
a descent of woodpeckers
a zeal of zebras

Now, am I the only one who is henceforth going to be on the lookout for any opportunity to use one of these terms in real life?


Traxy said...

*stares at stats thing* I'm SO not in Louisiana! o.O

That's a great list! Such crazy terms! :)

Oh great, so a rookery is a collective term AND "is applied to the nesting place of birds, such as crows and rooks". Phew! For a moment there, I thought I had misunderstood the word completely! Which would mean I would have to re-imagine parts of Jane Eyre!

Marian said...

Lol! A smack of jellyfish? Great stuff...some of these would make excellent book titles. ;D

Shining as Stars said...

How I wish I had such a list when I was in Africa! I can just see myself on safari saying unconcernedly, " I do believe I spy a zeal of zebras", and confusing many a honest tour guide.

Rebekah said...

lol I will be!!

A Destruction of Wildcats... That is SO appropriate!!! :p

To the KING be all the glory!


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